The top premium vodka in Poland, its country of origin, and the #7 premium brand in the world, Sobieski was launched in the U.S. in August 2007 and sold 255,000 cases in 2008, making it one of the hottest liquor introductions in years. The brand is 52% ahead of its projected sales for 2009 and on track to be the fastest vodka brand to reach 1 million cases in the U.S., reports Brandes.
Excellent timing is certainly responsible for some of that success. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, sales of super-premium vodkas are slipping in this wretched economy, while those at the premium price point continue to climb. Sobieski sells for a relatively modest $10.99 per 750 ml bottle and stresses value for the money.
The "Truth in Vodka" campaign, which urges consumers to focus on what's in the bottle rather than pay inflated prices to subsidize gimmicky marketing claims and showy bottle designs, has made the most of the brand's made-for-these times positioning.
Imperial initially focused on getting the word out to retailers via a $1 million trade campaign, moved into consumer media with a $4 million investment starting in mid-2008, and is now unveiling the creative for a more ambitious, integrated consumer push starting now but running primarily in this year's second half.
The latest round of ads from Meter Industries, the New York agency that created the campaign, continues to leverage the current value-over-status zeitgeist. Taglines include:
* Overspending on Vodka? That's So 2008.
* Flashy and Extravagant Are Out. We'll Drink to That.
* Ever Feel Like You're Not Getting Your Money's Worth? We Hate That Feeling.
* Buying a Vodka Because It's Filtered Through Diamonds? We Have a Ponzi Scheme You Might Find Interesting.
* Are You Paying for the Bottle? Or Are You Paying for the Vodka?
* Like Many Vodka Companies, We Used a Focus Group to Vet Our Product. It's Called 'Poland.'
The last tagline homes in on the heritage theme that's being stressed along with the vodka myth debunking. "Sobieski is a real product imported here from Poland," Brandes stressed to Marketing Daily. "Unlike some of our competitors, we didn't create it for the U.S. market."
The graphic approach continues to be minimalist -- nothing but the copy and a photo of the bottle on a solid black or white background.
The media plan, handled by Horizon Media, will include third- and fourth-quarter print ads in consumer magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Rolling Stone, SPIN and US Weekly and outdoor media (bus wrap shown in photo) in key markets nationwide. Online media -- including regionally targeted sites -- will also be tapped.
In addition, Cramer-Krasselt Public Relations has been added to the team for the latest consumer push.