6 Aug 2017

Corsican Brands That Sparkle - Orezza

There are so many different ways to approach Corsica and describe its fiercely proud spirit, and advertising is one of them. Here are a couple of long-established Corsican brands that set the tone in terms of strong brand identity and notable advertising features.

Both the brands I selected just so happen to be drink-related (one is mineral water, the other a range of alcoholic beverages). It could be that when faced with the unforgiving Summer heat that blesses and curses the Mediterranean island in equal measures, one may get an appreciation as to why thirst quenching is on the mind... followed by a well-deserved apéritif.

But first let's quench our thirst!

Eau d'Orezza:

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

With its 161-year history, Orezza distinguishes itself as the Corsican mineral water par excellence. The longevity stake alone makes it well ahead of the competition, island-wide. And wait for it... In Roman times, the iron-rich sparkling water was already praised for its therapeutic virtues.

In the mid-19th century, the medical profession recognised that the iron-rich water was beneficial for treating anemia, liver and kidney ailments and paludism. A spa establishment was set up in-situ where visitors could take the waters.

Despite competition by cheaper local brands, Orezza remains a staple on Corsican restaurant tables. It is also associated with a number of high-profile Riviera-based sports events. All in all, it remains a success story despite a three-year hiatus in the mid-1990s when the company fizzled out. It was saved from drowning and is now positioned strongly on the market. You could almost say that Orezza is the Corsican San Pellegrino in its own right, and this includes its reversal of fortune.

Napoléon Tête Couronnée, oil on wood by Jacques-Louis David

Orezza water is still being sold in glass bottles to satisfy the purist and the well-heeled but is also available in plastic bottles of different handy formats. Sign of the times, you can buy the water naturelle or with a refreshing hint of mint, grapefruit or citron.

I am unable to date the eagle advert for sure yet from the lettering and art direction I estimate it to be c.1890. The heraldic spread eagle symbolises strength, perspicacity, fearlessness, heritage and immortality. In the Orezza context, one may be tempted to hastily associate it with Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, Corsica's most illustrious offspring, but such a connection would actually be far-fetched. Besides the eagle representation here is that of a dishevelled bird, whereas Napoléon's was stockier and more polished in looks, not to mention the fact that the crown resting atop the eagle as part of the crest is not the imperial laurel wreath (see above).

Orezza advertising, 2000s

Bear in mind that the classic eagle symbology was resurrected from the Roman empire days by Napoléon. The eagle is popular symbology in heraldry; it is depicted on a variety of royal houses coats of arms and nation flags across the world and as a famous British bank emblem.

These days, Orezza's poster and magazine advertising is of a less solemn and ominous nature than the spread eagle composition. Oh, I love the cheerful vibe that captures what Orezza is really about! Bright, blue, Summery, upbeat and sparkling, featuring a lady who bears an uncanny resemblance to Corsica's modern day muse, Laetitia Casta... I must admit that I only managed to source a poor quality advertising image online, which does no justice to the actual rendering on a glossy upmarket magazine where it belongs, even after a few tweaks. Note to self: fish out my mum's old copies of Kalliste to seek out the full-page advert, scan it and upload it to this post.

Laetitia Casta and friend, photography by Walter Pfeiffer for Vogue Paris, October 2012

Orezza is proving to us that you can be over 160 years old and still be relevant, albeit amongst a bunch of millennials who were likely not brought up on the brand, and be the ubiquitous soft drink on the rallye and party circuit. Cheers to that!

Before you squeeze that slice of lemonn into your glass, make sure to catch Part 2 of our article!

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