Spotlight

By Published on .

Most Popular
Marketer: Smirnoff Vodka (Diageo)

Agency: J. Walter Thompson, London.

Even after death, Smirnoff makes life more interesting for the newly cremated.

Diageo is reinvigorating its Smirnoff Vodka brand in the U.K. with a quirky campaign that's also attracting a buzz in creative circles.

In the latest TV and cinema execution, Diamond, the narrator, voiced by actor Jon Polito, a regular in Coen Brothers movies, addresses the audience from beyond the grave. He says, "Life only got interesting when I died."

His brother takes his ashes to a company called "Live On," which uses a scientific process using intensive filtering to turn the ashes into a diamond. The brother sells the diamond, and in the final shot the jewel glints in a woman's front tooth. The tagline is "Not the Usual."

"Diamond," the second spot in the campaign by WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, London, is part of a revitalization of the Smirnoff brand begun a year ago and included fresh packaging and a print campaign.

Although Smirnoff was the U.K.'s best-selling vodka, Diageo felt that the brand had become too accessible, particularly with the launch of spinoffs such as Smirnoff Ice. "We needed to come up with a campaign that would reassert the brand's iconic, mysterious qualities," says Ryan Lietaer, JWT's account director on Diageo.

JWT focused on the qualities that make Smirnoff distinctive. The inspiration for "Diamond" came from the fact that the vodka is filtered 10 times through charcoal. The brand's Russian heritage inspired the first spot, "Matrioshksa," in which a female spy turns out to be a Russian doll.

According to Diageo figures, Smirnoff's sales have grown by 28% in the "on-trade" bar and pub business over last year.