VODKA ADS PUT THE PARTY IN COMMUNIST PARTY:NEWCOMER KREMLYOVSKAYA, STOLI USE SOVIET IMAGERY

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Communism is alive and well-not just in the hearts of many disenchanted Russians but in the ad imagery of some capitalist vodka marketers.

Two overtly Soviet-theme vodka campaigns are running in the U.S. and another in the U.K.

In June, fledgling marketer Dozortsev & Sons breaks ads in the U.S. emblazoned with the hammer and sickle for its imported Kremlyovskaya brand.

Dozortsev's $3 million, 26-market outdoor and transit campaign is themed "Party approved." Three ads from RDA International, New York, show bold hammers and sickles and red Kremlin skylines; irreverent headlines read "Join the party," "The new cold war is coming" and "Molotov's other cocktail."

JUST FOR FUN

"Today the U.S. has a totally different feeling toward the formerly communist state of Russia-there's nothing negative about our friendship," said Nicky Dozortsev, president-CEO and a Ukrainian expatriate. "We're just having fun with an icon."

"I don't think the hammer and sickle is a symbol that's going away," said Michael Rasz, RDA co-founder and principal. "People now are open enough to appreciate it-it's all part of the party spirit. No pun intended."

STOLI'S `FREEDOM'

Closer to the anniversary of the October Revolution, Carillon Importers plans to extend its popular "Freedom of vodka" campaign, said Michel Roux, Carillon president-CEO.

Carillon spent more than $8 million on media for Stolichnaya in 1995, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners handles.

The campaign's 26 executions by Russian artists will grow to 40 or 45 works in September or October, Mr. Roux said, when the imported vodka line will add "one or two" new flavors.

IN RUSSIA, TOO

This year, ironically, the brand's campaign will also break in Russia.

"It's the first avant-garde Western campaign in Russia," Mr. Roux said. "We're going to be sending the Russian people a message of quality regarding alcoholic beverages: to drink better but drink less."

RDA's Mr. Rasz thinks Dozortsev's broader approach will hit harder than Carillon's Stoli ads, which he thinks are meaningful only among well-educated consumers. Mr. Roux countered that Carillon is besieged with public requests for posters of the ads-and more importantly, Stoli sales are up 6% over last year, even as

the vodka category is on the rocks.

The vodka category had a "lackluster" 1995, said Frank Walters, director of research at industry newsletter Impact.

Still, he said, the import segment rose 5%, making up 12.5% of the 35 million cases of vodka sold in the U.S. last year.

In the U.K., an ad running for International Distillers & Vintners' Smirnoff vodka parodies Soviet era art. The ad from Lowe Howard-Spink, London, features a line of valiant looking workers; a Smirnoff bottle covers two of the figures, who-seen through the vodka-filled bottle-are shown playing basketball.

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