Hennessy’s Senior Vice President, Jasmin Allen, Speaks On Canelo’s...

Hennessy’s Senior Vice President, Jasmin Allen, Speaks On Canelo’s Champ Status, Nas’ Brand Position, And The Spirit’s Family Ties


Hennessy has long been the drink of choice for the edgier side of Hip-Hop. For at least two decades, the relationship with brown liquor and the genre has connected with artists like Tupac Shakur to Mobb Deep, to even Nas becoming a spokesperson for the hundreds-year-old cognac out of France. Yet, with all the love the brand has gotten from the music, it has also ventured out into the world of sports. Most notably, becoming the official spirit of the National Basketball Association back in 2020.

What seemed like an unlikely pairing has become an expanding venture as the NBA and Hennessy’s relationship, and role to one another is welcomed and flourishing. It has undoubtedly shined a light on some of the other partnerships in the sports space that they have occupied even before the NBA deal. After taking over Las Vegas for the big fight weekend of Canelo Alverez vs. GGG this past September, Hennessy has shown dedication to the sports lane, all while supporting their spokesman in Canelo, who is a champion worthy of a brand like Hennessy with their family-focused nature.

Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Hennessy USA

The spirit’s family theme was present in full as the Senior Vice President of Hennessy, Jasmin Allen took center room at the pre-fight dinner and gave an impassioned speech on the unity of loved ones, Canelo’s company ties, and Hennessy’s dedication to excellence through la familia.

“We’ve been a partner of Canelo’s since 2017, and over time, you grow together. In any relationship, you get to know each other. Our relationship with him has always been a positive one, but it couldn’t be stronger than it is right now,” Allen states. “I think there is mutual understanding, mutual respect, and we have shared values. We believe in persistence, resilience…even in the low times.”

Overcoming obstacles is the lane of life, and Allen spoke to Canelo pushing through and Hennessy being there for him. “[He] lost his previous fight before this one with GGG; we were so proud of the message after he lost. ‘I wanted to push myself. I wanted to go as far as I possibly could. Despite the outcome being what we thought it would be, I’m going to pick myself up and get back in the ring. I’m going to keep fighting, cus that’s who I am, and that’s what I believe in.’”

Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Hennessy USA

Throughout the weekend, Hennessy took over the Vegas strip to promote its champion, Canelo, debuting their first-ever 3D billboard on the Las Vegas strip, featuring Canelo shadow boxing in the ring before “punching through” the glass screen of the billboard. Prior to the fight, Hennessy hosted its Locker Room Live stream on social media and the metaverse. Fans were able to tune in and watch the champ get ready to face his rival.  

After a full night of hosting entertainment stars, company big wigs, and rocking out to 2 Chainz’s birthday bash performance at Drai’s Nightclub, Allen sat with VIBE to discuss Hennessy’s mission going forward and dedication to community through action with their Unfinished Business program and partners like Nas and Canelo.

When you extend into sports in the way that you have, what do you feel about the sports market that works with Hennessy? Especially with the NBA partnership.

First and foremost, I think that sports are a passion point like music is a passion point. When you lean into consumers’ passion points, that’s how you can make a real connection. Where a consumer is passionate, that’s where they are the most open, the most receptive. That’s a fantastic way to build this connection with them.

In particular to the NBA, when we try to evaluate partnerships like a league or a talent, we want to make sure that we have similarities. What we love about our NBA partnership, is that we know there are so many fans that are passionate about basketball, but the NBA is also a league that almost transcends the court. [They] are a league that is about impacting culture…reflecting what is happening in culture. That is who we are. We are a spirits brand that is so proud to be from Cognac [France], and we believe in the power of our process and the magic of how we create it. We also, at the same time, believe in the magic of culture and the importance of us making an impact on culture. We both feel so strongly about that. What we have been able to do over the course of this now three-year partnership is come together to celebrate the game and ways that we can go above and beyond the court.

Michael B. Jordan on the red carpet for the Canelo vs. GGG Hennessy V.S.O.P cocktail party in Vegas

Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Hennessy USA

What does that mantra “Never Stop. Never Settle.” mean to Hennessy coming out of the pandemic? It was a point during the shutdown where it was hard to liquor from overseas, now you have Hennessy signage all over Vegas for the fight…

I think the pandemic for the world was a tough time. It required everyone to think and act differently. For us, it allowed us an opportunity to really zero in on the things that really matter. Community and giving back are part of the heritage and ethos of Hennessy. At a time when we knew that communities, specifically Black communities, LatinX communities, and Asian-American communities, were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, we felt like that was our chance to lean in. So that’s when we founded the Unfinished Business initiative, where we have given more than five million dollars towards since we started it in 2020, to help those businesses. They have attempted to navigate a post-COVID environment, and it’s important for us to do all we can to equip those businesses with all they need to thrive. ‘m truly proud, despite all the chaos happening in the world, we were able to find an opportunity for us to make an impact in a really powerful way.

The impact has shown. You have Hennessy in so many rap videos…

The most mentioned spirit brand in rap songs is Hennessy. Something we are very proud of [laughs].

It’s important to say Hennessy really shows and proves that by including Black history makers, like in 2018 when Nas narrated a TV campaign/mini-doc on barrier-breaking cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor. What was it like for you to come into the company shortly after to keep initiatives like that going?

I was running Moet around that time, but I started on the [Hennessy] brand in December 2020, and I inherited a beautiful business that had been led by leaders that were visionaries. I first have to pay homage to the fantastic strides that they had made. Then as the first black female Senior Vice President, not just of Hennessy but of my company [LVMH] history, I think about what do I want my legacy to be?

Firstly, Nas as a partner, similar to Canelo, is near and dear to us. So it is very important to me to make it clear that these partnerships are a family-type relationship. Showing up for Nas and Canelo in ways where it doesn’t just feel transactional. It’s not, it’s real and authentic. Second, making sure we are doing the things that matter to the community. One of the reasons Canelo is so special is he means so much to the Mexican community, but also to the Latinx community. When you go to the weigh-in, and you see the passion [of the people], he is literally in their hearts. There is something very special about that.

One of the things we appreciate about Canelo and what he represents is he is a person that is very family orientated. He doesn’t take a step without his family. They travel with him. He’s a devout Dad and a dedicated husband. A great little brother, as the youngest of all his brothers. He feels like he’s doing this for his family and his town of Jalisco [Mexico]. That connection to Hennessy is strong because Hennessy was founded on the precepts of family. Richard Hennessy said, “I want to build a legacy that for generations our family can always have. Now eight generations later, it is the number one cognac in the world. I think he did a wonderful job back in 1765.

Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Hennessy USA

It’s rare to run into an executive that can wear the business attire and have a dressed down cool style, and can turn up with your staff to 2 Chainz and handle the budgets, marketing plans, etc…How hard is it, and what’s the joy of it?

Speaking completely honestly, I’m older and have had a long career now, and over time, I have felt more comfortable being and bringing my full self to any situation. I feel really convicted, and I tell this to my team: your ability to bring your full self is a good thing. Because I think the work will benefit from it, the collaborations from your team and you will benefit from it. One of the things that have come as a result of some of what we were faced with in 2020, not only COVID but some of the racial unrest, was an unveiling of the need for everyone to feel excepted. For everyone to feel excepted for who they are, no matter what their hair looks like. No matter what their skin looks like, or where they’re from…and I’d say, even more so since then, I’ve felt very convicted about showing up as my full self.

The beautiful part about it is, what I mentioned is I actually think that my effort is better because of it. Because I’m bringing everything I got. I’d like to think my team appreciates the fact that I manage the P&L, know the business like the back of my hand, and can present to our executive team in Paris, but at the same time can sit with them and enjoy a 2 Chainz concert, and a fantastic glass of VSOP…to commemorate a special weekend that we worked so hard to curate. It’s something that I preach when I mentor, especially when I talk to young women that want to go all the way. I tell them, “Feel free to embrace your full self sooner versus later because you’ll benefit from it.”

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