SPI drops Stoli Authenticity for modern Russian style

28 August, 2009

In a complete repositioning of its iconic vodka brand Stolichnaya, SPI Group has “deliberately” dropped the retro imagery of the brand’s former Authenticity campaign in favour of a new focus on “the cutting edge stylish modernity of ‘new’ Russia.”

The company plans to “grow Stolichnaya by 100%” by 2014, according to SPI Group partner and minority shareholder Andrey Skurikhin. “Our dynamic plans reflect that, with new partners, new routes to market and significant investment from the Group,” adds Skurikhin.

Packaging upgrades for Stolichnaya include a taller, “more elegant” bottle; enhanced label; new closure cap; and new embossing to “increase the premium cues of the brand”. The new looks are intended to “have heightened appeal to style conscious consumers”.

Indeed the new 360º marketing package is said to draw inspiration from the “wealth, glitz and danger” of modern-day Russia, positioning Stolichnaya as: “An integral part of a dark, sexy, intrigue-filled metropolis”.

New advertising executions place emphasis on the stylized letter ‘S’ from the Stolichnaya label, aiming for a “sleek and fashionable feel, using straplines such as “The wild wild west is in the East’, ‘Who will be your accomplice tonight’ and ‘Admit to nothing’.

There will be a heavy focus on the world’s most dynamic vodka market, the US, but print, billboard, phone kiosk and transit advertising will also be seen in key centres around the world such as San Francisco, Athens, Tel Aviv, Vienna and London.

An on-trade activation programme will ensure Stolichanaya is “seen in all the right places, such as the Maxim Hot 100 Party in Santa Monica and the annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April/May this year.

Off-trade, which accounts for the majority of Stoli’s sales, will see new gift packaging and merchandising developed to reflect the brand’s new positioning. Off-trade consumers will also be encouraged to visit the revamped stoli.com website, said to have: “Huge relevance to the brand’s target audience”.

“We have developed a huge support programme to effectively relaunch Stolichnaya on the international market and are confident that this strategy will catapult the brand to the position of global leader that is its rightful place,” adds Andrey Skurikhin, who also announced further “long-term visibility activity”, guerilla marketing and “significant travel retail activity”.

SPI Group first launched new advertising for Stolichnaya in New York in December 2008. New chief executive Val Mendeleev was appointed in November last year, at which time distribution agreements were cemented with William Grant & Sons for the US market and Edrington/Maxxium in the UK. In March this year, Corby Distilleries signed a five-year extension for distribution in Canada.

Stolichanaya declined to take part in this year’s Drinks International Millionaires Club listing, but the last reported figure for international sales volumes only was 3.33 million 9-litre cases in 2007, under the former arrangement with Pernod Ricard. This compares with a total figure of 10.73 million cases in 2008 for Absolut, the International category vodka brand leader.

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