Before the Campari International reached over 33 million bottles in annual sales, Campari family made significant steps in aperitif culture, inventing the historical marketing strategy with its ruby red coloured herbal spirit.
Gaspare Campari was born in 1828 in the small town of Castelnuovo, the province of Lombardy, before Italy was unified. Gaspare was a master drink maker (or an apprentice maitre licoriste) at the Bass Bar in Turin by the age 14.
Turin was the major commercial centre for aperitif products. His recipe contained more than 60 natural ingredients including herbs, spices, barks and fruit peels. The company still keeps the complete recipe confidential today.
During the 1840s, Gaspare sold his product throughout Italy. In 1860, Gaspare founded the Gruppo Campari in Milan.
Meanwhile France and Italy became rivals to one another in aperitif production and consumption. Aperitif makers began incorporating the labels with the names of cities like Italy, Turin and Milan as they distributed the products from city to city.
In 1862 he remarried and settled in Milan, the home of his second wife. He ran a cafe in front of Milan's historic cathedral, the Duomo. He also opened up Cafe Campari nearby.
Davide Campari, (in a picture) Gaspare's youngest son worked at the Cafe Campari for 33 years, serving the elite of Turin society including King Vittorio Emmanuel and his prime minister, Cavour.
In 1932 together with his father, Davide created Campari Soda, pre-mixed cocktail in a cone-shaped bottle designed by the Italian futurist designer, Fortunato Depero.
Davide contributed his marketing ideas, which later set the industry's standard of advertising and marketing. He allowed the rival bar owners in the area to buy the Campari products to sell it at their bars under the condition that the buyers display the 'Campari Bitters' sign at their location.
He also engaged with commissioning artists to create poster advertisement, allowing designers' artistic sense with three basic criteria: Artists must clearly display the brand name; use uncomplicated colour; and the brand should be incorporated naturally in the picture.
Among the most memorable posters are Cappiello's 'Folletto' (1921), displaying a dancing clown in an orange peel spiral holding a Campari bottle high above his head.
In the early 1900s, Davide met an opera singer, Lina Cavalieri. Shortly after they met each other, Lina was moving to Nice to perform in a summer show. To follow Lina, Davide decided to enter the export market and it was when Campari Group started the international distribution. This story remains as the 'love story' of the history of Campari Family.
Davide died in 1936. His sense of salesmanship and innovative marketing strategies brought Campari a worldwide success.
In Italy, Campari is usually served in a frozen glass without ice with adding soda in order to release the bitter sweet flavours. In the United States, Campari is often used for cocktails and served with ice.
Negroni Cocktail | History of Aperitif |
Back to People Profile front page