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Stoli Raises an Important Question

August 17th, 2010

Would you have a drink with you? Think about it.

A new ad campaign for Stolichnaya Vodka by Ogilvy & Mather asks this very question. (Launched on May 24th, 2010 with print ads and TV spots)

This celebrity-driven campaign is set to run into 2011 and began with a powerhouse; Hugh Hefner.

Stoli Campaign: Hugh Hefner

“With the launch of this new campaign, Stoli recognizes originality, creativity and passion in a call to action to the consumer,” says Andrey Skurikhin, partner at SPI Group, brand owner. “Stoli has a history of venturing into unchartered territory and the new campaign will spotlight real originals, people who take chances without asking for permission. Hugh Hefner exemplifies these shared qualities with Stoli and is the perfect individual to kickoff our new campaign.” – BeverageWorld.com

Stoli has always been the original type. The tagline, “The most original people deserve the most original Vodka. Stoli. Lead On.” definitely puts them on some pedestal that many can admire. Clearly, Hugh Hefner is a great starting off point because 1) He appeals to a wide, relevant audience and 2) He is a leader.

“I’ve always tried to live my life on my own terms, with sophistication and style, and this Stoli campaign reflects those same beliefs,” says Hefner. “I was intrigued by the concept of having a drink with myself, and I’m very pleased with the final results. I think fans will get a kick out of the spots.” – BeverageWorld.com

The 2nd TV spot features Julia Stiles, apparently a “Hollywood Original”. I don’t know enough about her to say whether or not this is a good fit, but here is the ad:

Let’s look beyond the celebrities, beyond the connection between their personalities and that of Stoli Vodka’s. This campaign has a lot of potential, but in order for Stoli to reach full potential they will have to do more than produce commercials and print ads.

The most successful campaigns for alcoholic beverages, in my opinion, incorporate one of the following:

  1. A positive feeling, or lifestyle, that can only be experienced with that particular alcoholic beverage.  Example 1: Spirit of Bacardi – Island TV Spot Example 2: Grey Goose – Discerning Taste: Oysters
  2. The brand engages the consumer by giving names and meanings to existing rituals or events that occur where alcohol is present, or simply starting them. Example 1: Budweiser commercials that gives names to how people handle a load of beer cans or bottles; the sherpa, labrador retriever, and the praying mantis. (Can you find the video?)

The most valuable part of this campaign is the question at hand, “Would you have a drink with you?” This is the beginning to a connection between the brand and their consumers. This is a very thought-provoking question, and the more Stoli plays around with it, the more times their brand will be shot into the consumer’s head.

Here are some ideas for the expansion of this campaign:

  • Stoli Celebrity Originals gives a profile of each of the celebrities used in the campaign and explains why they are original. It only seems right that they do the same thing for non-celebrities. Hold a contest and allow people to compete to be part of the campaign, maybe 3 total winners? It can be as easy as an essay contest where the participants explain why it’d be so great to share some Stoli Vodka with themselves. The 3 winners get their profile put up on the website, they get a claim to fame, some free stuff, and a one-of-a-kind, personalized bottle of Vodka.

Stoli has a sub-par social media presence, only their Stoli Vodka Facebook Page is showing some popularity with 17,169 liking it. On July 27th, Stoli asked their fans “If you were paired up with yourself like Stoli’s Celebrity Originals, what’s the first thing you would say?” This is a great start, but only 12 comments were received. How can the social media presence be improved with this campaign?

  • Keep engaging your fans! Don’t ask them that question on Facebook just once, ask them once a week with a different twist each time. How much would you spend when buying a drink for yourself? What flavor Vodka would you buy yourself? Would you rather have a drink with yourself from 2010, or the you in 2020? Would you accept a free drink from yourself? How many drinks would you have with yourself, just one? two? or until you’re passed out?
  • @Stolilife is doing a poor job of maximizing Twitter’s potential. Check out the feed, they aren’t talking to anyone.  They’re only following 8 people, and have a mere 254 followers after 4,000+ tweets. Even worse is the fact that there is another twitter account, @Stoli. Only 115 tweets but 600+ followers, and they are actually talking to people! First step: terminate @Stolilife and run just one account. Second step: I know it’s hard to start a trending topic because it’s really not up to the creator, but why not start. Bring the Facebook conversation over to Twitter. Have tweeps use #drinkwithme as the conversation anchor and encourage them to explain why they would or wouldn’t have a drink with themselves.
  • Stoli’s YouTube Channel is also far from special. I don’t even know if it’s their official channel or not. If you do a Google search for “Stoli Vodka YouTube Channel” the first result is ABSOLUT Vodka’s YouTube Channel. Here’s another simple idea, throw up a video encouraging people to film themselves having a drink with themselves. This would obviously take some effort by any participant, but it is sure to create some humorous videos. All of these videos would be in response to a Stoli video which would increase traffic, increase brand awareness, increase campaign awareness, and increase clicks to Facebook and Twitter accounts, provided that links are easily located.

Yes, the above ideas are SIMPLE. The point is that they are simple, and EASY. Come on Stoli, show some life. Capitalize on your clever campaign and complement it with social media efforts.

And no,  I would not have a drink with myself.

What do you think Stoli can do to improve this campaign? What celebrity do you think would be a good fit for the next TV spot? Would you have a drink with yourself?

Update (8/17): This post was in my drafts for a week while I searched for that Budweiser commercial to no avail, but it turns out Stoli is already extending this campaign: Are You Stoli Original Material?

Bryan Ricard Advertising, Commercials, Marketing , , , ,