Who sets the standard for premium vodka?
Posted by Alexey Arkhipov on August 31, 2011
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Call me old-fashioned, but I am not convinced that an ad slogan based on “try me” or “I’m the best” can work effectively for a premium spirits brand. This may have some impact with low-end repertoire products, but as you move up the price range, consumers need a more convincing and precise argument, be it rational (70% ABV) or emotional (Johnnie Walker’s ‘Keep walking’).
The ad that surprised me and some of my colleagues was a new campaign by Russian Standard vodka. My colleague spotted a cinema ad last week, part of the same campaigns I had seen on a bill board in central London a few weeks ago.
The brand is not new to the UK market, but what is surprising is that both, the cinema ad and the billboard, were working pretty much at “try me” awareness-building level. There was not much of a focus on “authentic Russian heritage and unparalleled smoothness” as was mentioned a few years earlier. In fact, the reasons to believe were not particularly clear – except for Russianness itself…
The Russianness of the brand is clearly supported by the name, but is it enough? It might be quite tough to convince consumers in the UK that the Russian vodka is the proper vodka, when French and even British brands articulate their refined products and while bars and shops are well stocked with varieties of vodka and liqueurs from Poland!
Therefore, it leaves me with two unanswered questions: what makes a proper vodka and what else, apart from the obvious Russianness, can bring success in fighting the Zubrowkas, Absolutes and Smirnoffs of the UK market?