Diageo serves up marketing cocktail for Smirnoff and Baileys

Diageo is making major changes to the marketing for Smirnoff and Baileys in a bid to elevate both brands in the increasingly competitive spirits market.


The drinks maker is channeling nearly £20m into promoting both brands around strategies heavily focused on distribution and widening their footprints in Great Britain. The move stems from changes made to the business since the turn of the year whereby a back-to-basics approach to balancing distribution with more efficient media spends is being encouraged.

Baileys is using the approach to encourage women to reassess when they drink the liqueur. Unlike spirits, liqueurs are more of an impulse buy in supermarkets, says Diageo, and so it has shifted more budget into the on-trade to change those perceptions. The increased focus on pubs and clubs underlines a campaign launching next month (19 November) to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary.

It continues the rebrand from 2012 and encourages women to come together and toast “Here’s to us”. The strapline appears in a TV ad currently being filmed in London, which will look to encapsulate the collective power of women.

The £3.5m campaign’s timing aims to use the key festive window to extend its appeal throughout the year. Women in the UK are 2.4 times more likely to buy a product in the off-trade if they have recently consumed in the on-trade, according to Diageo.

Anna MacDonald, marketing director for Baileys Western Europe, says the brand needs to get its “mojo back” back in the on-trade to secure long-term growth. An experiential push will launch in the run up to Christmas that Diageo claims will reach around 100,000 customers.

“Baileys is an impulse brand and doesn’t behave like a lot of other spirit categories where someone plans to pick up a bottle for a particular occasion. People don’t say I must buy a liqueur. It’s not the same shopping experience. With Baileys now, it’s about using the campaign as a sign post to bring more people into the category”, adds MacDonald.

For Smirnoff, the branding is being overhauled next summer worldwide. A “contemporary”, “simpler” design will appear on all Smirnoff 21 flavour cocktails as well as the Smirnoff no.21 and Gold variants. Diageo hopes the revamp gives its bottles and cans greater stand out on shelf to support as part of wider efforts to break away from some of the premiumisation the vodka category has come to be associated with in recent years.

The plan will see the vodka shift its attention to festival goers in 2015 through its Smirnoff Soundcloud pan-European initiative. DJs will partner with the brand to produce content ranging from intimate gigs to behind-the-scenes videos from festivals, alongside significant investments in sampling.

The tie-up will be preceded by the December launch of its Spotify partnership in Great Britain following its US debut earlier this year. It uses an algorithm to serve fans new music based on their preferences. Diageo expects the media buy to reach 3 million people across Western Europe with 1.7 million coming from the UK.

The announcements come as Diageo gears up for the festive period. Ads for its Smirnoff Gold and Baileys Chocolat Luxe products are being rolled out as the business looks to top last year’s sales.

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