Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Svedka Vodka: Strangely Appealing Robot Love-and-Liquor Combo.

Advertisers use robots in the pages of certain trade publications and nerd-mags. Wired, for example. I thought robot-featuring ads were going to take over this magazine in 2009, although paging through back issues I could only spot a couple reliably.

Ford’s SYNC®, “the guru of directions,” is a generic monowheeler. ESET, more I-robot-y, promises to protect us against cybercrime.

These days, I’m enjoying Svedka® vodka’s fembots.

They’re not the first CPG-related robots but I have come late to this brand*. I’m not hip enough myself (anymore if ever); I don’t live in the trendy parts of Houston or other large metro areas like Chicago and New York City, where the brand’s promotion is heavily deployed.

Despite early criticism (New York-based Copyranter, for example, hated these ads), I think the brand has three likeable attributes.

First, Svedka is value-priced, recognizing that there’s quite a bit of hype in the tonier brands of vodka which, no matter what people say, is still “an unaged colorless liquor originating in Russia.” Want to drink a lot? Drink this one. It’s both cheap and good-tasting. It’s from Sweden. Which keeps on being cool without being snooty. The current bottle shape is more reminiscent of Absolut.

Second, Svedka states it’s “voted the #1 vodka of 2033.” Wonderful, this claim: Neatly counter-intuitive, much less pretentious than some of the upscale vodkas. Besides, 20-plus years from now, no one will remember it and won’t need to.

Third, since the brand is invested in an imaginary (and party-hearty) future, Svedka can use…robots. See ‘em on the website, even build your own, a nice but not complicated level of interaction. See ‘em in advertising like the ones shown here, and in a range of other marketing materials.

Constellation Brands bought this vodka in early 2007 and says it’s now the third largest imported vodka brand in the US. As big as Constellation is, the brand is nimble and wry. A year after the purchase, Svedka offered then Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton free vodka for the rest of the 2008 election season.

The offer appeared in a full-page ad complete with fembot and coupon appeared on Page A11 of The New York Times. But unlike Clinton, the Svedka vodka campaign is still running.

*Svedka robots were created by New York-based agency Amalgamated in 2005 and the vodka has been an Adams “Growth Brand” and an IMPACT “Hot Brand” awardee every year since 2006. I’m just behind the curve.


Richard Laurence Baron said...

Beyond Copyranter, this campaign generated even more negative reviews. But I'm going to stick by my guns, especially since I'm NOT a vodka consumer.

On one blog though, the agency did explain more fully. For example:

"Conceived by avant garde artist Charlie White in conjunction with Ad Agency Amalgamated and ultimately created by special effects genius Stan Winston of The Terminator and Edward Scissorhands fame, SVEDKA_Grl embodies the Future of Adult Entertainment and is the glue TO our campaign."


Greg Salerno said...

So who’d’ve figured Richard Laurence Baron would have a weakness for ‘fembots’?

I agree with your assessment of the Svekda campaign. Its “in your face” qualities reminded me of a branded beverage t-shirt I often wore during my college days, amidst the oh-so-feminist mid-1970s, much to the consternation of my oh-so-feminist colleagues at the J-school. (My father and uncle were liquor wholesalers/distributors, so I had access to a lot of this promotional crap.)

Anyway, the t-shirt was from St. Pauli Girl beer and it featured their smiling, buxom barmaid on the back. That was enough to raise ire in those days.

But it was the front of the shirt that generated all the comments. A simple, text-only message, it read, “Enjoy a nice cold girl!”

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Now it's a year later. This morning's AdWeek announced:"Svedka—which began the posh-but-affordable charge several years ago—is now the fastest-growing spirits brand in America"

Nice to have noticed it earlier.