Stoli, Looking to Grow in U.S., Taps Ogilvy

Agency Beats McCann to Head Vodka Brand's Global Marketing

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Following a review, Ogilvy, New York, has picked up global marketing duties for Russian vodka brand Stolichnaya.
Ogilvy will need to refresh brand positioning and devise a new global creative campaign for Stoli.
Ogilvy will need to refresh brand positioning and devise a new global creative campaign for Stoli.

According to executives familiar with the matter, Stoli's parent, SPI Group, had reached out to a number of agencies for the pitch, but WPP Group's Ogilvy beat Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson in the final round.

Stoli spent $11.3 million on measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence

In a statement, Martin van't Zelfde, SPI's chief marketing officer, credited the win to a "range of ideas across multiple media platforms" Ogilvy brought to the table.

Trying to become hip
The agency change comes as Stoli aims to better connect with the "trendsetters," the hip, young-adult consumers. It also coincides with SPI's five-year plan to boost global sales and gain a stronger foothold in the U.S., the top global market for premium vodka.

Ogilvy will need to refresh brand positioning and devise a new global creative campaign for Stoli, which is growing in a hit market for upscale vodkas, but domestically is not doing so as quickly as its peers.

Stoli's U.S. case shipments grew 4.5% during 2007, to 2.2 million, making it the fifth-largest vodka brand in the U.S. But the four larger brands -- Smirnoff, Absolut, Grey Goose and Skyy -- all posted faster growth last year, according to the trade magazine Impact. Grey Goose, by comparison, grew 28% and Smirnoff grew by 9.1%.

Globally, Stoli ranks as the No. 4 premium-vodka brand and No. 13 among all vodka brands, with total shipments of 3.3 million cases.