In a city like New York, where the image of a strong, proud career woman sets the tone for women all over the state and even the nation, is it a good idea to use an intentionally sexist ad campaign to sell vodka? In a world of ever-expanding vodka brands, at least one company thinks that is how you get your label noticed.
Hiring celebrity spokespersons, even if it costs you a piece of the company, is one way. Creating an eye-catching ad campaign seems like a better deal.
Take Van Gogh. The Dutch distiller has a well-regarded line of gin and vodkas, but it is trying to get its new Van Gogh Blue Vodka noticed — by women more than anyone else.
Its new theme, called “You, unbottled,” is aimed at female consumers, primarily aged 25 to 44. It includes provocative print ads — such as the one shown here, events and ads in stores, bars and nightclubs, Facebook and Twitter.
The campaign, with a budget estimated at a million dollars, is being created by Engauge of Columbus, OH.
Van Gogh Blue is an 80-proof triple wheat vodka using grain from France, Germany and the Netherlands with a price of around $26-$28 a bottle. (Go here for my Dowd’s Tasting Notes entry.)
“It’s exceptionally smooth,” says Jonathan Bleiberg, president and CEO of Luctor International which does business as Van Gogh Imports, “but there are a lot of vodkas that are exceptionally smooth.”
“I play in a field of giants,” he said in an interview with The New York Times, referring to such brands as Belvedere, Grey Goose and Ketel One, and “I don’t have the marketing resources and the money” to match them.
He hired Engauge earlier this year. The public relations company put together focus groups and asked women such questions as “What do you like to do when you let your hair down? How do you let off steam?”
“If you saw some of the film and tape, it was absolutely hysterical,” Bleiberg told the Times. “I went home and asked my wife, ‘Is this what you talk about when you get together with your friends?’ It was so eye-opening.”
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