Russian Standard Vodka Sues Stoli, Launches 'Pure' Campaign

Russia's leading vodka company, Russian Standard, has launched an aggressive marketing campaign to mark the launch of the national distribution of its premium brand, Russian Standard Original, in the U.S. market.

The message of the campaign, called "Pure Russian," seeks to differentiate Russian Standard from other spirits by highlighting the fact that it is 100% Russian--from its ingredients to its distilling to its production.

That message calls into question claims of authenticity made by rival liquor companies such as Stolichnaya, against whom Russian Standard filed a lawsuit in New York federal court on last year, claiming "false advertising" related to the Russian provenance of its Stolichnaya brand.

Stolichnaya recently launched a marketing campaign titled "Choose Authenticity," in which Stolichnaya claims to be authentically Russian. However, Russian Standard contests that only it can compete with itself--via its luxury brand, Imperia--on claims of pure Russian authenticity of its product.



The "Pure Russian" campaign "draws a line between brands that are truly Russian and those that are not," says Roustam Tariko, founder of Russian Standard Group in Moscow, in a statement announcing the campaign's launch. "American consumers want the real thing, and that's exactly what we are."

The campaign was developed in house, Drew Beaver, communications director for Russian Standard Vodka USA, tells Marketing Daily. "The creative campaign is a definitive expression of the fact that we are a well-known premium brand in Russia and meant to very directly define our definition of authenticity."

"The copy is just 'Pure Russian'--we don't need a lot of pretense around our message; we feel strong with what we have," he says.

The print campaign will have placement in national lifestyle magazines such as Maxim, Rolling Stone and Stuff, as well as local publications like New York Magazine. "We'll also marry that with some creative PR ideas that will help to bring the brand alive in a much more physical way through the rest of the year," Beaver says.

There will be a particular focus on targeting American-based, Russian-language publications and media outlets, seeking to leverage the brand's popularity among premium vodkas, where it claims a 60% market share. "There is a latent demand for it here because we've been number one in Russia for a while," Beaver says. The company's total sales exceed 1.3 million cases per year.

Russian Standard Vodka's parent company, Russian Standard Group, is a conglomerate that is active in vodka, spirits and consumer finance. It owns Russian Standard Bank, which has more than 20 million customers, and the license to issue American Express cards in Russia.

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