Smirnoff’s big brand strategy shakeup is all about inclusion

Dive Brief:

  • Smirnoff is enacting the biggest change to its brand platform in more than a decade with a new global campaign focused on inclusivity, according to a press release.   
  • “We Do We” responds to what the Diageo-owned vodka marketer termed a “joy recession,” where consumers feel increasingly alienated. Casts and creative teams from a range of backgrounds helped bring the new vibrantly colored ads to life. 
  • Smirnoff is taking a digital-first approach to rolling out the effort in 20-plus markets, led by a hero spot running on social and audiovisual channels. Out-of-home, digital and TV ads out round out the media blitz, which will support diverse platforms and publishers in line with Diageo’s broader strategy.  

Dive Insight:

Smirnoff is trying to provide a balm for people who feel increasingly disconnected and alone with its splashy “We Do We” campaign. While the announcement does not specifically reference the pandemic, the global health crisis has had an acute impact on many consumers’ mental health, stoking feelings of isolation even as COVID-19 restrictions ease. 

The brand’s messaging encourages a sense of community and emphasizes how mingling with people from different walks of life can be even more fulfilling. Inclusivity was one of the biggest drivers of “We Do We,” and Smirnoff said it worked to ensure diverse partners chipped in for every part of the campaign’s development, both behind the camera and in front of it. Creative and design firm ManvsMachine directed and produced a hero ad embodying Smirnoff’s new ethos. 

“[We] know that when our tastes are as diverse as our world, the world becomes a magical place,” a voiceover reads during the spot. 

This is the brand’s first marketing effort with McCann New York since naming the Interpublic Group shop its creative agency of record in November. The appointment followed a nearly decade-long relationship with 72andSunny. The global rollout of “We Do We” follows several Smirnoff activations for Pride Month in markets including the U.S., U.K. and Canada and comes as summer party season kicks into full swing. 

Smirnoff will continue to build on “We Do We” in the months ahead with planned partnerships and sponsorship activities around music, sports and entertainment events, including festivals. Diageo has been quick to jump on the NFL’s loosening of liquor advertising rules, and Smirnoff indicated that “We Do We” will play into the upcoming pro football season.

Improving diversity, equity and inclusion became a bigger mandate for marketers following mass protests for racial justice in 2020. But the concept has gotten pushback of late amid an uptick in consumer boycotts, typically led by right-wing figures, against brands that are perceived as overly progressive or “woke.” Smirnoff seems to nod to some of this divisiveness while positioning its campaign as a corrective for a society apart.

“In a world where we’re constantly told to focus on ourselves, it’s becoming more apparent that we’re all yearning to be part of something bigger,” said Stephanie Jacoby, Smirnoff’s global brand director, in a statement. “At a time when the expression of ‘you do you’ has lost some of its shine and inclusivity is being challenged around the world, ‘We Do We’ is our rallying cry to embrace the power of the collective.”

Smirnoff is not the only vodka brand encouraging togetherness around Pride. Absolut, a rival owned by Pernod Ricard, earlier this week introduced an initiative that is meant to help consumers and business owners become better allies to the LGBTQ+ community.

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