Smirnoff 'Nightlife': How a social media and experiential strategy renewed Diageo's vodka brand

Geoffrey Precourt

Pyotr Smirnov started distilling vodka in Moscow during the 1860s. Since then, the brand that bears his name has had its ups (the three-year instillation of Russian troops in Germany was a boon to Smirnoff) and its downs (Absolut's dazzling marketing generated a spate of status-focused brands).

By 2010, the 150-year-old liquor brand's appeal seemed to have grown a bit dusty, which prompted Diageo, Smirnoff's owner, to turn to digital and social media to give it a boost.

Heading up this effort was a demanding marketer who told the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2012 Digital and Social Media Conference that she had had her fill of specious claims of interactive success.

"I won't even look at another presentation with click-throughs," asserted Michelle Klein, vp/content, digital and communications for Smirnoff at Diageo North America, Inc. "What matters is does it drive equity of sales.