Smirnoff launches ‘reactive, always on’ marketing strategy with General Election ads

Smirnoff is looking to become “more present in culture” with an “always on” marketing strategy as it kicks off a new £4.5m campaign, which will target cultural events such as the General Election and Pride in London.


Smirnoff we're open full ad

The “We’re On” campaign will see “playfully provocative” out of home executions throughout the year promote the brand’s inclusive positioning in Great Britain and Ireland by targeting upcoming events, such as the election and Pride in London, with one-liners such as “Vote for the House Party” or “Homosexual, heterosexual, who-gives-a-sexual”.

The campaign is the latest effort for the brand to break away from the premiumised vodka category and drive its position as an “inclusive” brand, something it kicked off last year with its “Exclusively for Everybody” brand positioning campaign.

It will also see it promote its association with the LGBT community by supporting Pride in London, having partnered with Winter Pride last year. Smirnoff will support Pride in London’s after party, ‘Pride’s Got Talent’ and ‘Dragathon’ events and will run an OOH campaign during the parade.

However, Dan Hatton, marketing manager at Smirnoff, told Marketing Week that the brand is also looking to become “more always on and present in culture” through the campaign, which will also target the upcoming Eurovision song contest among other upcoming events and will “continue to run and run” as the brand idea, according to Hatton.

“The days of spending a year planning big shoot are over,” he says. “We want to be more reactive.”

While this will involve proactive planning around when popular culture conversations will be taking place, according to Hatton, he adds: “We’ll never be able to predict the magical moments which we can turn on.”

Targeting a “mind set”, not a consumer

Having celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, Smirnoff has a high level of awareness and recognition, according to Hatton.

The brand also claims to own 59% of the growing £1.8 billion on-trade vodka market, while IRI data showed that both value and volume sales in the UK for Smirnoff Vodka grew year on year to 8 Nov, hitting £430.5m and 22.8 million litres.

Hatton says that instead of an attempt to drive awareness or sales, the campaign is “an opportunity to demonstrate that we get what consumers are into at this moment in time,” adding that the generation the brand is targeting as “all about embracing inclusivity as a notion and rejecting instances of prejudice”.

Smirnoff will push the campaign at music festivals this summer through its recent partnership with Live Nation, and will also adapt its media plan to “work with different groups that celebrate and champion inclusivity”, according to Hatton.

However, he adds that “the days of buying media against one target group are long gone”, and says it is a “mind set” and “attitudinal consumer” with a certain set of beliefs the brand is trying to reach rather than an age group.

A history of inclusivity

While the positioning may be new, a look at the brand’s history suggests it has never envisioned a target consumer and inclusivity has always been the aim.

Smirnoff has been consistently marketed towards both men and women, and was one of the first alcohol brands to directly target the African American market.

Speaking with Marketing Week about the brand’s 150th anniversary in December, Julie Bramham, global marketing director for Smirnoff said: “Inclusivity is really important to us. It’s the common thread and core of the brand that hasn’t changed in our 150 years. What has changed is the way we’ve executed it.”

Hatton added: “We’ve been at our best when we’ve had the inclusive vibe to what we do.”