Bolstered by its first national advertising push, a series of marketing partnerships and distribution gains, Peroni Nastro Azzurro is off to a fast start in 2019.

The Italian import is up 36.4% year-to-date through April 20, outpacing the import category more than sevenfold. And sales are accelerating: Over the most-recent four-week period, the brand is up a whopping 58.8%.

“All of this momentum comes on the launch of our new campaign, Birra Beautifully,” says Katie Feldman, marketing manager for Peroni and other MillerCoors import brands. “Our ads — especially the TV spots — are working to increase awareness and persuasion and differentiate Peroni from other import beers. Peroni is showing drinkers that it can elevate a drinking occasion that otherwise may have featured wine or spirits .”

And it made another high-profile move this week with the unveiling of an 18-story billboard in Times Square that will remain up for a month; a stunt the brand never would have attempted in the past. “This is all about taking advantage of every opportunity for Peroni to show drinkers that this is a special, unique brand that’s bringing style to the world of beer,” Feldman says.

That approach is consistently applied throughout its 2019 campaign, including television spots that feature a strong female lead and a high-end fashion and design aesthetic. They began airing on national television (a first for the brand), digital channels and social media in April and will continue throughout the summer.

Peroni this year also has had a presence at major cultural, fashion and food events, such as a prominent appearance during the Academy Awards via a partnership with Vanity Fair, the upcoming Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., as well as smaller events such as Orange County Fashion Week, the Dallas Film Festival and the NOMAD Art Show in Minneapolis.

The brand’s solid start to 2019 also has been helped by a monthlong partnership with the Italian olive oil brand Colavita, a cross-merchandising and consumer incentive program adopted by some 50 chain retailers across the country. The program, which ran during April “has helped both brands secure out-of-aisle displays and reinforce each of their premium attributes,” Feldman says.

The Colavita partnership also helped Peroni gain incremental distribution, part of the brand’s ongoing narrative this year. Through April, Peroni has racked up significant distribution gains, earning tens of thousands of new placements with chain retailers and new tap handles in bars and restaurants nationwide. “Our sales teams and distributors are crushing it,” Feldman says.

She says there’s still plenty of runway ahead. The introduction of a new 500-milliliter can is helping the brand gain entry to event venues such as stadiums, arenas and festivals. New branded glassware is helping build velocity in on-premise accounts. And additional marketing events throughout the summer will continue to generate new attention for the easy-drinking Euro lager.

“We know this is our time,” Feldman says. “With sales softening for our competitors and tailwinds in the above premium space, we have an incredible opportunity to come in as a uniquely positioned import brand and generate a lot of momentum. We are bringing Peroni to new markets, new consumers and new heights.”