Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report


To develop an advertising campaign that sells a product while also demonstrating Guinness UDV's commitment to social responsibility and showing consumers the company cares about the way its products are used.

Paul Holmes

To develop an advertising campaign that sells a product while also demonstrating Guinness UDV's commitment to social responsibility and showing consumers that the company cares about the way its products are used.
Guinness UDV wished to use a series of paid advertisements, both in print and radio formats, to make the connection between enjoying drinking and drinking responsibly.  Print advertisements for Smirnoff Vodka and Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky accentuate the importance of responsible drinking as a means of getting the most out of the product, whether it’s the smoothness of Smirnoff, the unforgettable good times created by Smirnoff Ice, or being a gentleman with your Johnnie Walker’s.  With the expanded capability of a radio advertisement, UDV sought to portray its product, Smirnoff Ice, as “off limits” to those who did not use it with care.  UDV’s overall goal is to make the inexorable connection between marketing their product and promoting responsible product use.  Guinness UDV’s strict Marketing Code presented in this package further elucidates this connection.
The series of responsibility ads begins with a print advertisement from Smirnoff, reading “It’s even smoother when you drink responsibly.”  The message plays off of one of Smirnoff’s marketing slogans, “triple distilled for exceptional smoothness,” to posit that responsible drinking makes the product taste even better.  The red and black ad features the responsibility message, with a Smirnoff bottle half-concealed to the right – a subtle indication that the responsibility message is the predominant advertising tool here.   The ad was also run in Spanish in several publications targeted to Latino audiences.
The Smirnoff Ice print ad, in an engaging dark blue and white layout, implores the audience to “make it a night you won’t forget, not one you can’t remember.”  The lower quarter of the ad portrays a hand holding a Smirnoff Ice bottle.  The diminution of the product in relation to the responsibility message again shows UDV’s focus on responsible drinking.  The ad ran in USA Today, The Hill and Roll Call and will be rolling out in newspapers across America.
Responsibility is unquestionably the prevalent theme in the Smirnoff Ice radio ad.   The ad begins by engaging the audience, stating “you are on our wavelength…you understand that Smirnoff Ice has a cool, crisp taste…you have a finely-honed talent for all things nocturnal.”  In this instance, establishing a connection with the radio audience by making them feel “cool” and “plugged-in” supercedes the importance of touting the brand, whose virtues appear as a backdrop within the ad.  The climactic point of the ad occurs when the announcer declares that “the most critical detail of all” is to ensure that if you drink Smirnoff Ice, “no matter how sharp you feel, do not get behind the wheel of a car.”   In closing, the ad bluntly states that “Smirnoff Ice is only for adults who drink responsibly,” delineating the targeted audience for the ad and the product.
The final ad in the responsibility series is a print advertisement for Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky.  Again, the responsibility message takes center stage in the ad, reading “A gentleman is as particular about what he drinks as what he drives.  And when.”   The use of the word “gentleman” ties neatly into the Johnnie Walker slogan, “Welcome to civilization,” and appeals not only to the status of the audience but also to the decorum of drinking responsibility.   The product itself is shown at the very bottom right-hand corner of the spread.  The ad was featured in numerous major magazines and prominently in Guinness UDV’s bi-monthly newspaper, The American Mix. 
The “Drink Responsibly” advertising campaign has helped define Guinness UDV as the industry leader in responsibility programs and messages.   Consumer response to responsibility ads is always overwhelmingly positive.  Guinness UDV will make responsibility advertising a cornerstone of their efforts to engage consumers and stakeholders in a diverse social responsibility and alcohol education program.
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