Pernod Ricard relaunches vodka brand in Russia

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MOSCOW--The Russian office of France's Pernod Ricard is relaunching Altaj vodka, its leading brand in the CIS market. The French marketer is raising the vodka's quality and image while leaving the current price intact. Ad agency Friedmann & Rose has just been awarded the Altaj account in a pitch against Young & Rubicam and APR-Media.

According to independent sources, Altaj may account to 5% of the 866 million liters of vodka legally produced in Russia in 1998.

Valentina Dolgopolova, the F&R marketing manager, says three major steps are to be made to change the image of the product.

First, its quality is to be upgraded. The vodka is to undergo three studies of distilling and be made from the premium Altaj spirit. Second, its packaging will be painted in three different colors --dark blue, gold and red. Third, the brand's name will be written in Russian now instead of in Latin characters.

The ad campaign is expected to begin in April and will include citylight posters and trade magazines, says Ms. Dolgopolova. The campaign will run in nine cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Altaj vodka traces its history to 1868 when Russian entrepreneurs launched it in the North of the country. In 1994, the factory was bought by Pernod Ricard and the first relaunch of the brand was made.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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