The Martin Agency, Stoli Tell Guys to ‘Drink What You Want’

By Erik Oster 

The Martin Agency launched a new campaign for Stoli Vodka, imploring guys to “Drink What You Want.”

While that message is certainly one we can get behind, the 90-second anthem ad at the center of the campaign fails to live up to its potential. There’s something decidedly off about the tone of the ad, delivered from the point-of-view of a (stereotypical millenial) guy who orders a blueberry-infused mixed drink at a bar. “Am I a man?” he asks himself, before answering, “You know I am: I march to the beat of my own blueberry-infused, mason jar-shaped drum.”

Despite the “Drink What You Want” tagline, the narrator/blueberry mixed drink orderer can’t help being a dick about what everyone else is drinking. He doesn’t like the taste of a tree, he points out, while passing some whisky drinkers, “For I am not woodchuck, I am man.” Then he scoffs at a long-bearded beer drinker sipping a “glass of over-hopped swamp water.”

Things really go south, though, when he’s addressed by a woman at the bar. “Mmm, I like blueberries too,” she says (Or is it thinks? Her lips don’t appear to move. Is he a mind-reader?) before he holds up a finger to “Shh” her and moves on. At this point, the spot seems to destroy any sense of feminism behind its message, along with any attempt to actually make sense. The “obligatory hashtag” joke is just the nail in the coffin.

The pot shots at other types of drinks seem especially devoid of merit for a campaign arriving at a time of year when they really shouldn’t be necessary. Instead of the over-the-top takedowns, pointing out the superior refreshment during a hot summer day of a mixed drink over, say, a glass of whisky, would have been not just less obnoxious but a much more effective argument.

Apparently the brand launched the campaign in response to a survey finding that 73 percent of millenial men enjoy flavored cocktails but 63 percent avoided ordering them in public over fears of being mocked by friends. Perhaps that explains the animosity towards the other drinks, but the approach betrays the campaign’s own tagline with a tone that will likely leave many viewers with a bitter taste in their mouths. A series of shorter spots promoting specific Stoli flavors and drinks abandon the animosity, which is to their benefit, even if the attempts at humor fall just as flat. These shorter ads will appear as paid media on sites including Comedy Central, ESPN and Playboy. 

“This isn’t a serious subject, it’s a fun subject,” Lori Tieszen, CMO and senior vice president of marketing for Stoli Group USA, told Adweek. “We think we have an interesting way in by relating to guys’ fears and saying drink what you want, don’t worry about it.”