Diageo gives ‘icing’ fad the cold shoulder

Branding is key to business success, from the world biggest companies to the individual business owner running a pub, restaurant, club… or a training & consultancy company.

We all want a strong brand and one which people automatically associate with our core business values. At Beyond The Blue we work tirelessly to associate our brand with the quality we provide, excellence in customer service we deliver and the effectiveness of our training and consultancy for our clients.

What companies like Diageo have to do is balance the quality and strength of their brands with responsible alcohol consumption messages; an uneasy balance.

In an ideal world where the individual was responsible for their own level of consumption this would be simple, Diageo could simply concentrate on promoting the strength of brand such as Smirnoff against the other brands in the market; unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world…

Every brand manager’s dream in 2010 is to have a marketing campaign which goes viral, it’s very effective (especially with the younger generations) and costs associated are minimal. Even better is when such a campaign is generated by user content rather than by the company itself, it affirms the value of the brand as it is in effect a customer recommendation rather than a marketing campaign; a message from a much more believable source.

The problem with these campaigns is that you have no control over them and what starts out as a positive message can quickly be hijacked into a very detrimental one. Stopping viral campaigns can be even harder than starting them; they are after all successful partly because they don’t seem to be the work of the corporation itself, so often if the corporation is seen to be trying to stop them they effectively promote them…

With this particular campaign of ‘Icing’ in the USA (something we would probably refer to as ‘Strawpedo’ in the UK) it does rather promote ‘binge drinking’, irresponsible alcohol consumption and an element of drinking which a corporation such as Diageo must dissociate itself.

The rules surrounding alcohol advertising in the US and UK are very different. Certainly in the UK with the introduction of the New Mandatory Conditions in April 2010 any link between an alcohol retailer and the promotion of such an activity, could land them in very hot water.

We are still awaiting the first test cases on the new conditions, but as a hypothetical example, a student night with a ‘strawpedo’ promotion would certainly qualify as a contender to be the first… 

We should point out that Diageo has distanced itself from the ‘icing’ phenomenon and taken steps to stop the misuse of it Smirnoff Ice brand; individual alcohol retailers should make sure they follow suit.


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Source – www.ft.com 

Date – 21st June 2010