Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wine & Spirits Category Memo: 'Three Olives' Vodka Launching $15 Million Ad Campaign Designed to Create Smiles (and Sales) Amid Recessionary Blues

One of the hottest trends in the retail spirits category over the last couple years has been flavored "ultra-premium" vodka. And one of the hottest brands in the flavored "ultra-premium" vodka segment is "Three Olives," which is based in the United Kingdom but owned by a Jacksonville, Florida USA company called Proximo Spirits, Inc. The vodka is distilled in the UK and bottled in Maine, in the U.S.

"Three-O," as its called by its fans, has captured the flavored vodka craze among consumers that started some years ago at hip bars and nightclubs where flavors of all kinds -- chocolate, pomegranate, cherry and more -- found their way into Vodka Martini's designed by creative bartenders.

"Three Olives" brand Vodka figured that what's hot at the clubs and bars also should be hot -- and fun -- at home. The "ultra-premium" vodka, which comes in a 750-ml bottle and sells for $19.99 per bottle and up, comes in 16 different flavors, including: cherry, grape, root beer, orange and chocolate. It's the "Vodka-tini" in a bottle.

"Three Olives" brand and Proximo's product development and marketing strategy seems to be working. According to Nielsen data for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 10, 2009, "Three Olives" brand Vodka looks to be the fastest-growing "ultra-premium" imported flavored vodka brand in the U.S.

Now Proximo is betting that Americans will continue to buy (and buy even more) of its flavored vodka, even in the current recession, and is launching a $15 million dollar marketing, advertising and promotional campaign, which includes a complete redesign of the "Three Olives" Vodka bottle, according to a story today in Marketing Daily, a marketing publication produced by Media Post.

The Marketing Daily story says: " The multifaceted campaign, created by award-winning boutique agency Agent 16, conveys 'Three-O's' message that drinking premium vodka should be 'fun and exciting' by featuring a series of models showing delight at the various flavors, with the headline: "What's Your O-Face?" (One of those models is depicted at the top of this post in what is a reproduction of a full-page ad for the brand set to run in numerous U.S. consumer magazines starting next month.)

[You can read the entire story from today's Marketing Daily here.]

Economic recessions and spirits' sales

In recessions past in the U.S., sales of alcoholic beverages have remained steady, and even have shown growth. Most analysts attribute this to a couple factors: First, that in bad economic times a drink (or two or three) can be an affordable indulgence. Consumers might not be able to afford a new TV, computer or car (or even a nice sweater currently), but they can spring for a $20 bottle of "Three Olives" flavored Vodka, for example. The second a suggestion is that essentially bad economic times breed increased drinking, sort of a form of self-medication if you will. There's likely a bit of truth to both of these arguments.

Sales of spirits, wine and beer have largely held steady in this current recession. However there are signs that sales are slipping a bit. Recent reports show a drop of about 3-5% on average across the segments. That's not much of a drop though when you consider how much more severe the current recession is compared to say the one in 2001 and the recession of the early 1990's.

One can reasonably argue that those spirits brands like "Three Olives" Vodka, which market and advertise aggressively and creatively in bad economic times, stand a much better chance of not only preventing sales from declining but in actually increasing sales After all, in tough economic times, like in good times, it's all about stealing share from competitors' brands -- and for that matter from makers of other kinds of spirits, within reason of course. It's tough to turn a life-long whiskey drinker into a flavored vodka drinker, after all.

Proximo's brand "Three Olives" multi-media marketing and advertising campaign, which launches in March, is taking a very fun and light approach. Perhaps economically hard-pressed consumers will respond to that message and buy. After all, where else can you get all that fun (and taste) for about $20 a bottle in this severe recession? And as this recession gets even worse, which it will, even non-drinkers might want just a taste of chocolate vodka to help them remember what the good life was like a mere year ago.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Three Olives Vodka is garbage! Three Olives Vodka is to quality Vodka what a wine cooler is to quality wine.

Take my advice, buy a quality unflavored vodka and, if you must mix it with something, then mix it with a quality mixer.

For example, you want a good screwdriver...get a good vodka and mix it with some fresh squeezed orange juice.

You will have a healthier and tastier drink.

Does anyone know what three Olives puts in the Vodka to give it that flavor (I mean really know?

I tried the Three Olives Vodka purple the other day. It was absolute GARBAGE. If you are into a little kid's drink, I guess it is okay. If you are a grown up, stick t the real stuff. There is nothing premium about Three Olives Vodka.