The brand leans into the diversity angle in a behind-the-scenes video published on YouTube that includes cast member Blue Ellery describing the ad shoot this way: “I think you’ve got a lot of different characters, different pronouns, different races, different backgrounds and orientations and everyone seems comfortable enough to introduce themselves and talk about it in an open way.”
Using marketing to talk about diversity is not uncommon for Smirnoff, or the larger vodka category, which has a history of leaning into it—especially pro-LGBTQ+ advertising. Smirnoff, for instance, has previously used actress and LGBTQ+ activist Laverne Cox in ads.
But the new campaign arrives in a newly polarized and politicized environment in which brands of all kinds are being attacked by conservative politicians and media for so-called “woke” marketing.
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But Smirnoff did not hesitate to move forward with its campaign, said Stephanie Jacoby, global brand director for Diageo-owned Smirnoff, in an interview today.
“We see [it] as a rallying cry to really boldly champion the power of the collective and the celebration of the ‘we’ that is created [when] different people, ingredients and flavors come together,” she said. “And I think that message of inclusivity and representation has long been part of Smirnoff’s DNA.”
The campaign will run in more than 20 countries, including the U.S. The media buy includes TV, social, digital and out-of-home, in addition to influencer marketing.
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The media strategy plays into Diageo’s “wider vision of investing in platforms and publishers who are working to make mainstream media more diverse and inclusive,” according to a press release. Ad buys include the BET Awards on June 25 in addition to continuing a partnership with Spotify that focuses on “empowering women in music across Latin America,” according to a Smirnoff representative. Smirnoff is also participating in a range of Pride events across cities including Chicago, Houston, Seattle and other municipalities.
The brand even played into the “we” ethos by using London and Los Angeles-based collective ManvsMachine to direct and produce the ads. That means credits do not include a single director but a collection of diverse talent assembled by the group, according to Jacoby.
As for the cast, she described them as “vibe shifters,” describing it as an “ageless mindset” that is “all about the energy and the joy that these people bring to…their friend groups.” The use of “a wide range of ethnicities, ages, abilities, and pronouns” is meant to represent “the very broad drinker base that enjoys Smirnoff all over the world,” she added.