Willis will initially promote the vodka in North America, then globally.
The celebrity will make personal appearances at events in addition to being featured in new ads within Sobieski's "Truth in Vodka" campaign.
The 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 helped drive rapid sales growth for the Polish brand since its introduction to the U.S. in August 2007.
Sobieski sold 255,000 cases in 2008, and a half-million cases this year, per the firm. The brand's avowed goal is to reach a million cases "faster than any other vodka brand has been able to achieve."
Belvedere subsidiary Imperial Brands, Inc. initially focused Sobieski marketing on a $1 million trade campaign, and moved into consumer media with a $4 million investment starting in mid-2008. This past May, it implemented a new, $5 million round of magazine, outdoor and online ads featuring headlines promoting the quality-at-a-reasonable-price theme ("Flashy and Extravagant Are Out. We'll Drink to That.")
Willis was chosen as the brand's ambassador because his personality and the brand's share much in common, according to Imperial Brands president/CEO Chester Brandes.
"We are a brand with nothing to hide, and the confidence, and humor, to talk in simple, straightforward, black-and-white terms about our product," Brandes commented in making the Willis announcement. "Much like Sobieski, Bruce is authentic, likeable, and doesn't get caught up in superficiality."
Another spirits brand that has recently tapped the hip appeal of a celebrity is Proximo Spirits' 1800 Silver Tequila. The tequila launched television and other ads featuring Michael Imperioli of "Sopranos" fame this past September.