Smirnoff is one of United Distillers & Vinters main brands, with a
1999 advertising expenditure in excess of pounds 15 million.
That was considerably up on 1998, when it spent just over pounds 8.6
million and was the UK’s 67th highest-spending brand.
The bulk of Smirnoff’s media planning is now handled by Carat, which won
UDV’s newly consolidated strategic account in August 1999, following a
pitch against MindShare. The likes of Western International Media and
Primesight still handle some of the vodka brand’s buying business.
Smirnoff, launched in Moscow in the 1860s, has grown into the world’s
largest premium vodka brand, selling 15 million cases a year in 150
UDV’s sizeable spend on Smirnoff has been designed to differentiate its
sub-brands, defend its market share and improve its targeting and
The most notable campaign of 1999 was for Smirnoff Red at the end of the
year. More than pounds 4 million was spent during the Christmas period
on a mixture of TV, radio, cinema, press and an in-store promotion with
Blockbuster. The Blockbuster campaign allowed customers to rent a video
free of charge when they bought a bottle of Smirnoff Red.
This campaign was part of a larger ad blitz designed to boost Smirnoff’s
presence in the ’on and off’ trade, curb the threat from own brands and
build usage of, and loyalty to, the individual Smirnoff brands rather
than an overall ’umbrella’ brand.
This strategy is reflected in Smirnoff’s adspend, with expenditure on
the flavoured varieties exceeding that for the core brand. The spend for
January to November 1999 was pounds 6.6 million - which included pounds
1.4 million on Smirnoff Ice and pounds 1.2 million on Smirnoff Mule. In
addition, UDV launched high-profile advertising campaigns for the Red
and Ice variants at the end of the year.
TV accounted for more than pounds 6.6 million of the spend up to
An unusually large sum of pounds 1.9 million was spent on cinema
advertising, a development that will be considered a success story for
Pearl & Dean and Carlton Screen Advertising.
The brand’s love-affair with posters continued, with more than pounds
1.2 million spent on outdoor, much of it promoting Smirnoff Mule. Radio
and press picked up the remaining pounds 900,000.
No direct mail activity was tracked for Smirnoff or indeed any other
vodka company in 1999, but this is likely to change following the
creation of a marketing database for Smirnoff Red, designed to improve
direct marketing capabilities. The database is a defensive move to guard
against any future government ban on advertising alcoholic drinks.
Smirnoff’s press advertising focuses on style and entertainment titles
such as as Q, Loaded, Elle, Minx, Select, Sky and Heat.