Pernod Ricard Korea CEO Jean-Manuel Spriet, right, poses with Busan Mayor Hur Nam-sik after donating 100 million won ($86,000) to the municipal government for the city’s eco-friendly bicycle project last week at Busan City Hall. / Courtesy of Pernod Ricard Korea
By Kim Jae-won
Pernod Ricard Korea’s new CEO Jean-Manuel Spriet likes the fast tempo of Korean society, donates to the nation’s environmental causes and sings along to K-pop group 2PM together with his 15-year-old daughter.
Being fully engaged in learning about and enjoying things Korean doesn’t mean Spriet, however, is diverted from his main mission: to boost whisky sales.
Spriet turned out to be a good communicator with a sense of humor and friendly character.
The chief of the Korean unit of the French liquor company led the conversation at the dinner table during a press conference held in Busan last week to celebrate the launch of Imperial Classic 12 City Edition Busan, a limited edition whisky exclusively sold in the southeastern port city.
He praised K-pop, which has recently gained popularity all over the world, not in only Asian countries but also in Europe, the United States and South America well. “Many French youngsters enjoy K-pop. I like 2PM the most, whom my 15-year-daughter introduced to me,” said Spriet.
He said he once waited to buy concert tickets for the six-member boy band for his daughter, which cost 100,000 won each.
Spriet, who has been here for five months, said he likes Korea’s dynamic society. “Paris is the same as one hundred years ago, but Seoul changes so fast. I like it.”
The French CEO encouraged Korean reporters to approach him. “Please don’t be shy, and please talk to me,” he said to journalists. Thanks to his open mind, a few Korean reporters were able to interview him through an interpreter.
Spriet lifted the atmosphere by making the audience laugh. “We wish good luck to the Nam-sik bicycle,” said the CEO referring to Busan Mayor Hur Nam-sik after announcing a donation of 100 million won ($86,000) to the municipal government. Busan plans to use the fund to promote bicycle use.
The donation is part of the company’s corporate social responsibility program. Spriet said that the company is embedded in social responsibilities wherever it does businesses.
However, he did not fail to mention his business ambitions. Spriet said he aims to boost the Korean whisky market with limited regional editions in Busan, Jeju and PyeongChang.
Pernod Ricard Korea released its blended Scotch whisky brand Imperial 12 decorated with the three cities’ characteristics. The Busan edition was designed with four symbols of the city: Gwangan Bridge, gulls, Marine City and a yacht.
The Jeju edition, which was released recently, was decorated with Mt. Halla, the Olle hiking route and canola flowers. The PyeongChang edition, launched in November to celebrate its hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, bears images of ski jumps, mountains with snow and fir trees.
“We expect those brands will touch the pride of regional consumers,” said Spriet.