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Smirnoff Needs to Ice "Icing Bros"

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.

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Kristen United States says:

Aren't Smirnoff ice usually drank by women and seen as a woman's drink? By targeting bros they are making the drink a game for masculine guys. I can see how it might be humiliating to make a bro drink a girlie drink, since bros are all about their masculinity, but it's also a game that makes it acceptable and part of the "boy's club" to drink Smirnoff Ice. It's associating Smirnoff Ice with being a bro, which could lead to long-term sales. Being a bro is being a stereotype (like being a hipster), and it's something people joke around about because it is comical to be a "bro." If someone jokingly wants to be the stereotype, instead of reaching for a Natty Ice, they might reach for a Smirnoff Ice. Any thoughts?

May 23, 2010 12:08 PM #

Mark Australia says:

I think that's the idea. If Smirnoff is a girly drink as you say, then this is a great (but flawed) way to extend Smirnoff to 'bros'. However, this may hurt the Smirnoff brand in the eyes of women (if they become aware of it), who won't associate themselves with this kind of 'bro' user imagery.  

May 24, 2010 01:19 AM #

Jerry FCLD United States says:

The Awl has been all over this - check out the Goldman Sachs & W+K icings:

May 23, 2010 04:11 PM #

A Sauer United States says:

Indeed. here's the cache of the memo that disappeared from the Village Voice website.

May 23, 2010 07:34 PM #

Mark Australia says:

I think it is in fact marketing because in the brosicingbros website there's a lot of tie-in of Smirnoff drink flavours in the image captions.
But it's a good innovative creative campaign. Drink responsibly though? And the nothing off-limits could go wrong, like deathly wrong.

May 24, 2010 01:11 AM #

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