Christophe Pienkowski understands the importance of brand building. As a national Martell ambassador, Pienkowski has traveled the globe to create brand awareness. During, NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago, Martell will host several events.
Pienkowski recently sat down to discuss his journey, events in Chicago, and the importance of diversity.
What events can we expect from Martell in 2020?
2020 is going to be an exciting year for Martell, as we continue our “Make Your Statement” campaign, celebrating and shining a light on those who have made it by courageously staying true to themselves. I don’t want to give away too much information, but some of the events that we have coming this year will feature our partners Quavo, and the culinary collective, Ghetto Gastro. These events will serve as a celebration for all those who’ve made a statement and continue to push the boundaries in pursuit of their passions. Up next is the big basketball weekend this month in Chicago, and we have some bold things planned with our partners and some surprise guests that we’re very excited to unveil.
What is your current position?
I am currently the U.S. National Ambassador for Martell and I’ve been with the company for 15 years.
How did you determine your career path?
From an early age, I have always been fascinated with the connection between taste and texture. As a young boy, I spent countless hours in my grandmothers’ kitchen, nurturing a culinary passion that would lead me to cook at some of the best hotels in Europe and the U.S. for 15 years, before eventually moving in 2005 to Martell’s own Chateau de Chanteloup, where the company entertains its guests. There, my international experience added to Chanteloup’s gastronomic capabilities. In 2011, I was approached by our Heritage Director, who asked me if I was interested in a new career, as a Martell Ambassador. After plenty of discussions with my family, I accepted the challenge and since January 2012, I have been the Martell Brand Ambassador, for Europe and Asia first, and now for the United States. It’s a role in which I travel often and enjoy very much.
What industries connect to your career choice?
Despite my non-traditional work journey, I’ve always been connected to the same kind of industries, whether that’s hotels and restaurants, bars, catering groups, cruise ships, or the liquor industry.
How important is it for companies to embrace diversity?
I believe it is extremely important for all companies to embrace diversity. Throughout my travels and experiences, I’ve seen firsthand how diversity drives creativity and is an effective way for companies to approach opportunities and challenges with a unique perspective, to create innovative and impactful solutions. At Pernod Ricard, I’m proud to say that we promote diversity and inclusion throughout our business.
What should fans of your brand know about NBA All-Star weekend and your events?
We will most certainly have an imprint in Chicago for the big weekend, with plenty of surprises in store. Again, I can’t give too much away, but we will be making a statement throughout the weekend with various activations. As one of the oldest of the great Cognac Houses, we intend to lead the way and be bold in our ideas, events, and products. Just take a look at the latest expression from Martell – Martell Blue Swift. It’s a spirit made of 100 percent VSOP Martell, then aged in Bourbon Barrel. This is just one example of how Martell continues to be unapologetic and make a statement, as a leader in the cognac category.
How do you help to create brand awareness?
I’m constantly talking about Martell whenever I can, not because I have to, but because I love to! I never stop learning about my brand so that I can share even more incredible Martell stories with my customers. It’s important to believe in what you’re doing. When you are fully confident about your brand — and it’s not difficult to be confident about Martell, a brand with more than 300 years of history — then you can share your knowledge with passion and a purpose. Once you do that, people around you are going to trust you and your brand and will want to learn more and experience it for themselves.
What is one of the biggest challenges of being in your field?
As a leader in the spirits category, one of the biggest challenges and opportunities is making sure we stay a step ahead of the game. At Martell, our brand vision is to lead the way by setting bold and unapologetic trends instead of following them, to truly engage with our fans. Along with our classic blends, we work carefully to ensure that our new Martell expressions are very accessible to current cognac fans, as well as those who are not as familiar but have a desire to learn more. That’s one of Martell’s many unique traits — you don’t need to be cognac connoisseur to enjoy our blends. From Martell VSOP Red Barrel to Martell Blue Swift, our blends can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or even in a delicious cocktail — however you choose to make your statement.
What advice do you give on achieving success?
I always say it’s best to follow your gut, work hard, be open-minded, and stay positive. Trust in what you’re doing, accept your mistakes, and embrace even the smallest success.