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Five things to know about Ricard, famous pastis from Marseille

The Pernod Ricard brand is celebrating its 90th anniversary. (©AS / News Marseille)

On the occasion of 90 years of the Pernod Ricard brand, the teamNews Marseille was able to visit the Mx, a museum dedicated to anise located in the docks of Marseille.

Here are five things we learned about the history of the Pernod Ricard brand, a company inseparable from Marseille.

Paul Ricard wanted to be an artist

Paul Ricard was born in Marseille on July 9, 1909 in the district of Sainte-Marthe (14ᵉ). Coming from a family of craftsmen, he was passionate about graphic arts. After studying at the Beaux-Arts in Marseille, he wanted to start a career as an artist, but his father saw things differently.

He refuses that his son dedicates himself entirely to his art, believing that this would not be enough for him to earn a decent living. Paul Ricard then went to work in the family business which, in the meantime, had converted to resale of wines and spirits.

The young Paul Ricard will therefore deliver the bottles of the family business to various bars in Marseille. He will take the opportunity to taste and adjust his anise drink recipe, which will become in 1932, Ricard, pastis from Marseille.

Paul Ricard will nevertheless retain his interest in art. During his life, he will paint more than 5,000 works and will become one of the main patrons of his time. It is even said that he was close to Dali.

The brand’s first posters were designed by Paul Ricard himself. (©AS / News Marseille)

The Pernod Ricard company perpetuates this heritage today. Its “Pernod Ricard Live Music” branch organizes free concerts and supports young developing artists.

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An exhibition of the company’s collection of works is also in preparation at the Mucem.

Why is the brand logo yellow and blue?

It’s simple, yellow for the sun, blue for the sea. Ricard wants to be representative of Marseille, which is why it sports the two main colors of the city.

But the reality is more complex than that. Paul Ricard mastered the graphic arts and knew that yellow stands out particularly well on a blue background. Wanting his brand to be easily recognizable, he placed this “flashy” logo on all trucks, objects and containers affiliated with his brand.

Paul Ricard is a communication pioneer

In the 1930s, when the drink was invented, communication was still in its infancy. Paul Ricard was one of the first to understand its importance, trying to create a solid brand image.

He draws all the posters himself, designs the objects and launches advertising campaigns. He says he wants “to offer beauty” through its beverages by creating a culture of the object and a DNA for the brand.

The brand will become the first sponsor of the Tour de France. On the facade of a building, opposite a motorway slip road, a 330m advertising fresco2 will remain, for 7 years, the most viewed French advertising campaign.

On the right, a photo of the advertising campaign located on a wall along the highway.
On the right, a photo of the advertising campaign located on a wall along the highway. (©AS / News Marseille)

He will understand before many others that, in order to sell, “we can no longer content ourselves with saying that the product is good. You have to give it a soul“. This premature understanding of the laws of communication enabled him to succeed in launching his brand in the midst of emerging from the crisis, despite the competition.

Ricard comes from absinthe

On March 16, 1915, absinthe was banned in France. But, its aniseed taste has already marked the spirits and the French continue to distill it illicitly. Paul Ricard will start from this observation to create his drink.

However, he will change the recipe, incorporating licorice and Provencal herbs, which will give the recognizable taste to its spirits. He will also reduce the alcohol content of the drink, to adapt it to the southern climate.

The color of Ricard’s iconic carafe is an accident

The first Ricard pitcher, exhibited at the Mx. (AS / News Marseille)

The iconic carafe is also a creation of Paul Ricard. He would have left the object too long in the ceramic kiln, which would have given it its brown color.

True or not, the carafe has become one of the flagship objects associated with the brand. For the 90th anniversary of Pernod Ricard, it is possible to buy an exact copy.

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