Posted by Abe Sauer on May 21, 2010 02:59 PM
Oh dear, what is happening to Smirnoff? No sooner do we post our weekly look at brand "huh?"s when we come across this item. The Smirnoff brand currently finds itself in the unenviable position of being the select beverage of an underground game called "Icing Bros." The viral activity consists of a person presenting a friend ("bro") with a Smirnoff Ice which said bro must, then and there on the spot no matter what, take on bended knee and chug the whole bottle. But, if that friend himself is carrying a Smirnoff Ice, then the original presenter must chug both "Ices." Seriously, we're not making this up.
The increasingly popular prank has its own website, Brosicingbros.com. That website's operators recently did an interview in which they said, "There is no form of Icing that is off limits; the more creative and less convenient for your bros the better. We've had bros getting Iced before going to work, at work, studying for an exam, right before an exam, at graduation, while driving cars, before a soccer game, etc."
That sound you hear is the collective groaning of Smirnoff brand managers holding their faces in their palms. If it isn't, it should be. For a grassroots prank the activity has a suspicious amount of marketing architecture. There is the aforementioned Brosicingbros.com and a Twitter feed.
As the prank grows in popularity it certainly means an increase in both sales and profile for Smirnoff's Ice product; but the perceived disgusting nature of Smirnoff Ice as part of the gag offsets any brand-building campaign.
The kind of profile being raised is brand poison and Smirnoff, if responsible, would be wise to kill it now before it gets out of hand. If Smirnoff is not involved, it should be proactive and release a statement stating so before it's too late.