Alfred Dunhill Relaunches Store With Rowdy Debate

For the relaunch of its Madison Avenue store, British brand Alfred Dunhill invited Piers Morgan and Donny Deutsch to debate the merits of London and New York.

By Anna Sekula September 22, 2008, 4:44 PM EDT

Alfred Dunhill's inaugural Dunhill Debates

Photo: Jessica Torossian for BizBash

“In American football, players wear enough gear to insulate an apartment,” declared Englishman Piers Morgan on Friday night. The former editor of Britain’s News of the World and winner of Celebrity Apprentice, wasn’t just mouthing off for no reason; he was on a podium with New York ad exec and CNBC talk show host Donny Deutsch as part of a debate staged by Alfred Dunhill for the relaunch of its Madison Avenue store.

With the promise of witty banter and fierce dialogue, the British-based men’s clothing company hosted more than 100 guests—a mix of Dunhill consumers, members of the media, and British expats—at its New York flagship.

A little livelier than the average store launch, the cocktail party pitted Deutsch and Morgan against each other on six different topics including American football versus English football, the power of advertising versus the power of editorial, and the United States President versus the English monarchy. Tina Gaudoin, editor in chief of WSJ, The Wall Street Journal’s recently launched magazine, moderated the debate, which drew cheers, laughter, hisses, and boos from the crowd.

To set the stage for the event, Dunhill’s marketing agency, M&C Saatchi, hired John Ierardi of Event Energizers. Squeezed in between the elegant store displays, the custom backdrop and lecterns featured a simple black-and-white color palette with the logo and lettering of Alfred Dunhill. And to allow guests to vote on the winner of each topic, each seat held two miniature flags—the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes—representing the native countries of Morgan and Deutsch.

Playing off the U.K. versus U.S. motif, catering company Abigail Kirsch served Tom Collins and Manhattans cocktails as well as hors d’oeuvres including sliders and bangers and mash.

As the winner of the 40-minute face-off, Deutsch was presented with a $10,000 check made out to his chosen charity—the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. And although Morgan lost the battle, Alfred Dunhill marketing director Julian Diment decided to give the English personality a $10,000 check as well, which he donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

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