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When Bros Attack

by on June 19, 2010

“They seem to be targeted to younger kids. I have a younger brother and he’s tried it. He likes it.” – My brother, The Buzz of ‘Malternatives’; TV Ad Campaigns Promote Beverages, and Brands, Washington Post, July 23, 2002. I had just turned 18.

Every time I turn around, somebody new is talking about “Icing” (Jenna Johnson, Campus Overload blogger for the Post, gives a good explanation of the wave of media attention). For me, this recent resurgence of Smirnoff Ice is a reminder of the summer of 2002. Just shy of eight years ago, I received an instant message from my older brother apologizing for being misquoted in the Post and slandering my good name. “What I said was, ‘I have a younger brother and I’m guessing it might be something he would like.’ I really don’t know where they got that other stuff.” Clear case of yellow journalism.

Standard Icing Pose

Accidental Spokesperson?

Now, eight years later, with the rise of social media, targeting young impressionable minds is even easier than it was when you just had to slip your booze ad into the TGIF lineup. With that in mind, Smirnoff should be hesitant to jump on the fad that, with the help of Facebook and Huffington Post, has everyone talking about them again, but not always in a good way.

So, how should they respond to this fad that places them squarely in an ethical dilemma? Today’s development, the end of, which may have been at the hands of Smirnoff, might be a little extreme. Not everyone agrees, but I can’t help but feel like they’re taking the easy way out.

Backers of Smirnoff’s stance point out that aside from toeing the line of promoting underage drinking, most people on the wrong side of an Icing are quick to point out that the drink is far from delicious (This is bad news? People used to think Dominos wasn’t very tasty, either, and they seem to have turned that around).

While true, let’s consider the impact of this fad on me — a proud member of their target demographic. If Campus Overload’s timeline is correct, Smirnoff has enjoyed six weeks of free marketing as a result of this fad. Have I heard of it? Yes. Have I been motivated to purchase? Almost. As evidenced by the first article, Smirnoff Ice holds a fairly insurmountable stigma for me.

During those six weeks, what else has Smirnoff been doing online? I’m not sure, so I decided to check it out. It seems that their headline push is a “Play the Party Architect” contest. Participation involves submitting a tweet-friendly description of the ideal party. This sounds kind of interesting.  Unfortunately, the contest closed yesterday. I may have been motivated to participate if I had heard of it, but, let’s be honest, it’s going to take more than 140 characters to describe my perfect party.

What I can put into 140 characters, though, is my alternative solution to their Icing dilemma.

Officially distance. Use free Icing feedback to inform much needed product development. Assist anti-underage drinking efforts. Enjoy $.

… and you can quote me on that.


From → USA

  1. Great post. I enjoyed your writing style as well as the personal approach you took to sharing a story about a trend that many of us might not have otherwise paid attention to. Your analysis of how it is risen and the links that you provided added good context to the subject and also helped to prove the point that this was a real trend getting significant attention. The 140 character recommendations to Smirnoff were spot on and a nice and short way of sharing your point of view at the end of the post. The one thing that would make this post stronger is digging a bit more into the point that you briefly touch on at the end of your post on how Smirnoff seems to be running a different campaign entirely on their site. You share that they should “officially distance” themselves from the Icing trend, but what about unofficially? Something like this is catapulting their brand into pop culture, should they do anything to leverage it? Could they? Adding a bit more around your thoughts from a marketing/communications point of view on how they might do it to expand on your thinking would be the ideal way to complete this post. (4)

    • Thanks Rohit. I think my biggest concern was in article length. I got the feeling towards the end that I was getting a little wordy, so I tried to finish up without saying too much.

      As far as leveraging the fad, I was thinking about Smirnoff possibly spoofing the Dominos ad campaign. They could start off with some good focus groups, and get feedback on whats wrong with their product, particularly flavors. Then, just like Dominos, they could stop by the homes of their focus group participants with the new and improved Smirnoff Ice. The Smirnoff representatives could make a joke referencing the fad (“you’ve been ived bro!”) but focus on the serious improvements they made in response to the focus groups. As long as they focused on adults, responsible drinking(sipping as opposed to chugging, for example) and most importantly, their new and improved product, I feel like maybe they could make some strides in the right direction from all this.

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