The overlords of advertising seem confused on a very important point: should vodka be girly or manly? Or is it the realm of that strange and exotic creature, the cougar? Millions of dollars hang in the balance.
Portfolio.com picks up on a Bloomberg report that the producer of Smirnoff vodka plans to increase marketing to "middle aged women," and points out that marketers have been positioning vodka as the "cougar" drink of choice:
Gruppo Campari's Skyy Vodka and X-Rated Fusion Liqueur have been catering to the cougar crowd for at least a couple of years. For Mother's Day 2008, X-Rated crowned Anne Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson as the hottest cougar in movie and TV history after conducting an online poll. That same year Skyy and X-rated supplied CBS's TheInsider.com with eight cougar-inspired drink recipes for Valentine's Day, including Sweet Ben's Pink Lemonade (another nod to Mr. Robinson).
Bloomberg says that in the United States, women make 62 percent of vodka purchases in stores. In Russia, vodka is considered a manly drink, but for the past couple of years marketers have been trying to come up with a brand for the ladies. Per a Times report in 2008:
The concept is a radical one for Russia and violates a golden rule of alcohol marketing: never advertise solely to women.
"You alienate the men, and women think it's too girly and feminine," said Adrian Goldthorpe of FutureBrand, a global branding consultancy that counts Russian vodka distributors among its clients.
Vodka marketers are going to have to get their story straight. In the meantime, I'll have a beer.