The game, dubbed “icing”, sees young men drinking the vodka variant on one knee.
It has become an internet craze with “icing” incidents posted online on a dedicated website named “bros icing bros”.
However, the site was shut down last week amid suggestions that Diageo had taken action against its founders. The drinks maker has not confirmed that any action was taken but did say in statement that it had “taken measures to stop this misuse of its Smirnoff Ice brand and marks.”
“The ‘icing’ phenomenon was not created by, and is not supported by Diageo. It is counter to Diageo’s values, and violates our marketing code, of which we are very proud,” it adds.
Diageo will be keen to protect the premium positioning of the Smirnoff masterbrand from such online fads. Intangible Business recently named Smirnoff the world’s leading alcoholic drinks brand in terms of financial contribution and consumer perception.
In addition to advertising regulations, Diageo prides itself on an additional internal marketing framework to ensure that it does not promote irresponsible drinking.