The cloudy, tangy malternative-or alternative to beer-that debuted in January's Super Bowl sold almost 11 million cases in its first six months of national distribution. Contributing to those unprecedented numbers were sampling, on-premise promotions and a $25 million ad budget in the first half of this year.
Smirnoff Ice, which in the U.S. contains no vodka, is capitalizing on a ready-to-drink sensation that's been dormant since the 1980s coolers craze. With a label so similar to its namesake-the U.S.' leading vodka-Ice is more recognizable than most new products and is building brand awareness and loyalty among twentysomethings shifting from soft drinks.
Behind the Smirnoff Ice marketing effort is Jennie Young, senior brand manager at Guinness-Bass Import Co., a subsidiary of Diageo Worldwide's Guinness-Bass-UDV North America. The 27-year-old, who declined comment for this story, started with UDV as brand manager on Malibu rum and has worked on Ice since 1999.