Smirnoff puts its Ice to the test

By Published on .

United Distillers & Vintners is testing its single-serving Smirnoff Ice beverage in two U.S. markets as J. Walter Thompson Co., New York, prepares TV advertising for the citrus-flavor vodka drink.

One ad from JWT centers on two male campers vying for a lone 12-ounce bottle of Ice, according to a knowledgeable executive. One camper throws honey on the other so an approaching bear will chase his companion -- and leave him to enjoy the drink alone.

The ad could be tweaked before it hits test markets, according to the executive.


The commercial marks the debut of U.S. TV advertising for the Smirnoff brand. Though several liquor marketers including Seagram Spirits & Wine Co. have ended their voluntary ban on TV advertising, UDV has made few attempts to run ads in the U.S.

Smirnoff launched its 12-ounce Ice product in Europe last year. UDV will test the drink stateside in Southern markets, according to another executive close to the situation.

UDV introduced Smirnoff Ice to the U.K. with a TV effort from JWT, London. Those commercials positioned the premixed spirit as a drink for men in a campaign that broke late last year. The spots carried the tagline: "As clear as your conscience." The U.S. tag is said to be different.


JWT and UDV declined to comment on the U.S. effort. JWT handles an estimated $200 million in spending for UDV, which consolidated its accounts at JWT and Leo Burnett Co. in May 1999 when it dropped Lowe Group.

Smirnoff, UDV's biggest seller, is the No. 2 selling spirit in the U.S. Vodka is the country's largest spirits category, accounting for 25.4% of spirits consumed, followed by cordials and liqueurs with 12.5%, according to industry publication Impact.

Smirnoff accounts for about 16% of UDV volume, according to Impact.

Last year, UDV spent $11.4 million on measured U.S. print, outdoor and radio advertising for the Smirnoff brand, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Most Popular
In this article: