Diageo: If One Brand Ambassador Works, Why Not Ten?

Having made a splash with suave Tanqueray gin brand ambassador Tony Sinclair, distiller Diageo is now going the concept nine better for its Smirnoff label.

Smirnoff has announced a search for 10 consumers who will travel the globe together for a full year in pursuit of "original nightlife experiences."

The Smirnoff Ten will visit "the world's most exciting" events, festivals, bars and clubs across Asia, Europe, South Africa, Australia and North and South America -- including, naturalmente, "Smirnoff Experience" events in Moscow, Shanghai, Paris and New York.

The Ten -- representing countries from around the world, including one lucky U.S. party hound -- will document their adventures in blogs, short films, photoblogs and articles. The content will be featured on smirnoff.com, a special branded channel on YouTube, other Web sites, and TV, radio and print promotions.

Would-be Ten members must apply on the Smirnoff Web site between now and Aug. 20. The brand says it's looking for writers, photographers, reporters, editors and camera operators with "unique style and finesse" who are "tastemakers of nightlife" in their areas (bartenders, DJs, promoters etc.), live the urban culture and can "work the scene anywhere in the world."



The Smirnoff promotion was no doubt inspired in part by the success of the Tanqueray Sinclair character, a 30-something "international man about town" who, armed with a witty line, a British accent and a cocktail shaker, can be counted to ask: "Ready to Tanqueray?"

It's also somewhat reminiscent of a promotion launched early this year by Starwood Hotels & Resorts: an international contest to hire a "chief beer officer" for The Four Points by Sheraton hotel chain. That effort pulled in thousands of applicants for a "position" that mainly required loving beer and representing the company at promotional events like hotel openings and brewery tours.

By throwing young people together for an extended period of time in exotic destinations, the Smirnoff campaign adds serious dashes of reality show and prime-time soap opera flavor.

Such promotions are, of course, part of the on-going trend to using brand ambassadors and mascots as experiential marketing platforms. While personifications of brands are as old as Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima and Mr. Clean, they've seen a major resurgence in popularity in recent years because their images can be used effectively across a wide variety of media, including TV, online and print.

Further, the entertainment value of these characters encourages consumers to forward online ads to their friends.

The already-hot ambassador/mascot trend was given further momentum by the phenomenal success of Geico's gecko and cavemen mascots.

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