Madonna Signs With Smirnoff

Material Girl Teams With No. 1 Global Vodka Brand for a Dance Competition

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Madonna, who turned 53 this week, is the newest celebrity booze endorser, inking a new global deal with Diageo's Smirnoff vodka.

The Material Girl will kick off her new partnership with an international contest in which fans of the vodka brand can vie to become a dancer on her next tour. The competition is part of year two of Smirnoff's Nightlife Exchange Project, an ambitious global campaign that will seek to unite the globe for one big party this fall.

Madonna is partnering with No. 1 vodka brand Smirnoff for a contest.
Madonna is partnering with No. 1 vodka brand Smirnoff for a contest.

But how much relevance does Madonna still have in the age of Lady Gaga? Diageo thinks she is timeless. "She stands for originality," said Michelle Klein, Smirnoff's VP for global content and communications. "She's always creating cultural movements, whether it's in dance or music or fashion. She is a trend setter."

In one respect, Madonna is still at the top of her game, recognized by 98% of U.S. consumers -- which is 20% more than Katy Perry -- putting her on par with Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington and Bill Gates, according to the Marketing Arm's Davie Brown Index (DBI), an independently conducted survey that marketers use to determine a celebrity's ability to influence consumer brand affinities and affect purchasing decisions. Madonna's influence score, while decent, is a bit more pedestrian, ranking No. 478, which puts her in the same neighborhood as Jada Pinkett-Smith and Bette Midler, according to the index.

The Nightlife Exchange Project asks fans to submit ideas on one of Smirnoff's 50 localized Facebook pages about what makes their home city's nightlife unique. Smirnoff will then use the suggestions for an event Nov. 12 in which cities swap party ideas. Last year, for instance, British food and music was featured in Miami, while Smirnoff brought South Beach to London, recreating a beach at an indoor venue.

This year Smirnoff will hold events in 50 countries, up from 14 last year. Madonna will go to one event -- Diageo is not yet disclosing the location -- to pick her new dancer in person among 10 finalist chosen from online video submissions. Agencies working on the campaign include Smirnoff's global creative agency of record, JWT, New York, as well as the brand's new lead global digital agency, Profero.

Smirnoff is the world's top selling vodka and dominates in the U.S., commanding nearly 21% of the market with $231.8 million in sales, ahead of No. 2 ranked Absolut, which has 9% share as of the year ending June 12, according to SymphonyIRI, which does not include liquor stores, bars or Walmart.

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