Stolichnaya Ventures Into the ‘Wild Wild East’

Spirits company SPI Group this week unveiled a new campaign for its vodka, with a bold pitch that states: “In a world of gold diggers, hustlers and pretenders, Stolichnaya is the only true thing.” The effort is meant to modernize the brand, and targets 25- to 34-year-old vodka drinkers.

Somewhat mimicking Russia’s current club scene, the ads feature intriguing images like a blindfolded woman with luscious red lips, blowing out cigarette smoke that forms the text: “smooth like an alibi.” Other ads are accompanied by copy, such as: “who will be your accomplice tonight” and “everybody is somebody’s secret.”

The campaign—which is estimated at $10-$15 million—is meant to reflect consumers’ “desire for adventure and intrigue, and Stoli’s role within that desire,” Andrey Skurikhin, minority shareholder at SPI Group, said in a statement, adding that the goal is to grow Stoli sales in the U.S. over the next five years. At the same time, it speaks to “‘anything goes’ sensibilities of modern-day Russia” but is meant to promote the brand as “independent of geography,” per the company.

Print ads will run in Maxim and Elle, as well as niche publications like Nylon and BPM. Banner ads will run on Web sites including Flavorpill/ArtKrush, Thrillist and Urban Daddy. OOH ads also support in New York, Los Angles, San Francisco, Miami and Chicago.

Ogilvy & Mather, New York, developed the new campaign, shortly after landing the global Stoli account in September. This is the first work Ogilvy has done for the brand. The campaign is called “Wild Wild East,” which is a departure from the traditional communist Russia feel, said a rep at Ogilvy. Previously, Publicis handled Stoli’s ad duties.

This is not the first time Stoli has tried to lure younger consumers; it launched its first global advertising effort in June 2007, also targeting the same demographic. That effort prompted consumers to “Choose authenticity,” and boasted Stoli as “the mother of all vodkas from the motherland of vodka.” SPI Group spent $10 million on marketing to promote the vodka’s heritage.

In the U.S. alone, ad spending for Stolichnaya topped $10 million last year (including online) and $2 million in the first five months of 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence.