Smirnoff Ices Bros Icing Bros

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It was nearly a month ago that we reported on the phenomenon of “Bros Icing Bros,” a viral male-bonding meme consisting of one dude presenting a fellow dude (aka “bro”) with a Smirnoff Ice which said bro must, then and there on the spot no matter what, accept on bended knee and down in one gulp.

The frat prank became so popular that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “iced” a staffer, while Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley was himself iced. Its icy grip extended from college campuses to Wall Street and beyond, incuding—as Interbrand’s Jennifer Bassett noted—the music industry.

But like all candles that burn twice as bright, this one has flamed out. Brosicingbros.com, the hot burning epicenter of the whole shebang, has gone dark with a farewell sign-off. And Smirnoff has come forward to quash any doubt that the whole thing was a viral marketing activity on the brand’s part.[more]

A statement from the brand’s parent company to Ad Age reads, “Diageo has taken measures to stop this misuse of its Smirnoff Ice brand and marks, and to make it clear that ‘icing’ does not comply with our marketing code, and was not created or promoted by Diageo, Smirnoff Ice, or anyone associated with Diageo.” The brand appears to be waiting to decide on legal action.

While several other less popular “icing” sites remain active (and the rumor mill speculates that the flagship icing site has been sold), one can already feel the deflation of the whole endeavor. The New York Times covered it, which usually signals the start of any hip trend’s decline and commencement of shark-jumping.

But signaling the death more than anything else is the declaration that Smirnoff is not behind it. Indeed, half of what has driven the spread of “Bros Icing Bros” was rampant speculation that the brand was behind the viral trend. Now that it clearly isn’t, the story will die. Yet, conspiracy theories remain.

The likely scenario now that the trend has reached its apex is that Bro Icing will take a dark turn. This is the probably reason why Smirnoff, whether it’s behind the prank or not, is squashing it.

Sooner or later a teenager will crash a car or be injured after an icing incident and the local news anchor will lead the evening with a report about “the latest teen alcohol game,” a mention of Bros Icing Bros, and then of the Smirnoff brand. This inevitability is evidenced in the icing video above, where a youth is “iced,” in the parking lot, in his car, after work, before his likely drive home.

A media that ravenously reported on the drinking game will eat up this so-desired tragic conclusion. And, of course, bloggers and social media.

The worst case scenario for Smirnoff: it’s forced to do damage control in the short run, while the brand is smeared with “icing” for years to come.

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