Nightlife culture is traditionally surrounded by allure and exclusivity. Smirnoff, however, aims to dismantle this perception with the claim that it’s a drink for “czars, stars, and thirsty grandmas.” This message undergirds its 2014 “Exclusively for Everybody” U.S. campaign featuring a three-minute video, broken up into a series of 30-second spots, that parodies VIP and mixology pretensions and promotes Smirnoff’s greater accessibility.
Smirnoff’s democratic approach also extends to its digital presence. Picking up on key insights from its global marketing team, Smirnoff focuses on being present—at the right place and the right time. Avoiding platforms like Snapchat, where sponsored ads potentially interrupt what people are choosing to engage with, the brand instead favors its own video platforms and promotes a less invasive approach to storytelling, tailored to the cultures and subcultures it wants to reach.
Through a partnership with Live Nation, for example, Smirnoff is sponsoring 26 musical festivals around the world that highlight EDM (electronic dance music), which Smirnoff sees as a highly inclusive, global style that resonates with millennials. The Smirnoff Sound Collective is a program designed to bring music fans closer to their favorite artists, launched in partnership with Spotify Australia. It’s also backing up its Formula One (F1) sponsorship of the Sahara Force India team with a comedic Web series, #BeyondTheGrid, aimed at breaking down the elitism behind F1, while reaching more racing fans.
The 150-year-old brand stays relevant by crafting campaigns that respond to contemporary global issues in real time. In 2015, Smirnoff launched the “We’re Open” campaign in the U.K., a direct response to global LGBT discussions and legislation. The campaign combats prejudice with feel-good messaging—highlighting a universal desire to simply have a good time that spans age, orientation, gender, race, and creed.
Engagement is key as Smirnoff faces increased competition and changing trends in vodka consumption, which led to a slight dip in U.S. sales in early 2015. However, Smirnoff No. 21 Red Label gained U.S. shares this year following the launch of the “Exclusively for Everybody” campaign, the introduction of new packaging, and targeted price promotions. Smirnoff also grew net sales in European countries like the U.K. with the launch of the “We’re Open” campaign. Net sales were also up in Latin America, most notably in Brazil, and Smirnoff had a very strong year in South Africa.
With a focus on inclusivity, engagement, and universal good times, Smirnoff maintains its position as the world’s best-selling vodka brand.