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On The House: Vodka Ads Give Me a Hangover

On the House is our weekly column written by the owners and operators of the great food and beverage establishments of New York. Your resident proprietor is William Tigertt of Freemans. Today, Mr. Tigertt, in addition to being his usual articulate self, goes fully off the handle and notes to us by way of preface, "Here’s my piece on the brilliance of vodka marketing. I feel like I have a moral duty to start calling these people out."

Just How Stupid Do You Think We Are? A Marketing Guide to Pravda Vodka.

2006_09_onethehouseA.jpgThe marketing of super premium vodkas has reached a new low. In an over crowded category flooded with look-alike products after the runaway success of Grey Goose and club bottle service we’ve final hit rock bottom. The Pravda Vodka advertisement in this Sunday’s New York Time Magazine represents the worst of the worst in spirits adverting. I’m continually baffled how large liquor distributors target the most sophisticated, educated, and affluent demographics with such knuckle-scrapping apishness. So let’s just break it down and let the marketers speak for themselves:

1. “Why is this top model giving her friend Pravda Vodka?”
Maybe it’s because she believes in stereotypes. Why a top model? Why not a Russian heiress or a coke-addled actress? Or maybe because the My Little Pony Princess plastic jewel bedazzled bottle reminders her of her recent childhood bedroom - far removed from toxic investment bankers and lecherous club promoters she’s stuck selling vodka to.


2. Key Product Placement
The bigger question in my mind is why she is cradling the bottle in an incredibly suggestive phallic position over her friend’s crotch? Is she setting up to give him something more than a high ball? Turn the page quick to see!

3. Wrong. She’s a Taste Expert!
She’s read all the research! It’s the best tasting vodka in the world. Too bad every other vodka all make the same claim citing all citing different completely impartial professional tasting companies that charge up to $15,000 a year for their endorsements.

In a January 26, 2005 blind tasting, the New York Times panel had a hard time telling the different premium vodkas apart and finally awarded $15 a bottle Smirnoff top honors. On an even more amusing note, the Malt Advocate editor, John Hansell, includes straight grain alcohol diluted to 80 proof with distilled water in his vodka tastings. Guess what? Diluted grain alcohol often wins out and is judged the very best vodka of them all. Too bad it only costs a few bucks a liter, and you can’t order it at Marquee for $400 a pop for all your discerning friends.

2007_03_prav3.jpg4. The Innovative Recipes
Pravda vodka wants to educate its customer and has been thoughtful enough to include two great recipes for the burgeoning mixologist in us all. First, we have The Perfect Pravda Martini. Shake the vodka with ice, and serve in a cocktail glass. Great! Nothing else required. Models love booze and shirk calories; so it’s PERFECT! Too bad technically a Perfect Martini is actually defined by a combination of both sweet and dry vermouth, but let’s not split hairs - no one ordering this vodka would care about proper martini terminology. I’m not going to even bother justifying the claim: “No Other Vodka Can Make A Perfect Martini” with a snarky comment.

The other recipe “stick the vodka in your freezer” is likewise amazing. Vodka won’t freeze, but storing it in the freezer does three things: one - makes it really cold, two - increases the viscosity rendering any mouth feel or texture mute, and three -flattens out any flavor profile making it tasteless. I highly recommend it for extremely cheap well vodka like Geogi, Popov, or anything else that sells for under eight bucks and comes in a plastic jug. No legitimate spirit tasting would ever serve anything “freezer fresh.”

So there you have it. If you’re a top model, do the research, canoodle in the banquet with the bedazzled bottle, and recommend Pravda Vodka to all your friends. If you’re a regular New Yorker and want some smooth Polish vodka that your friends will love, go down to Astor Wines & Spirits and throw down $12.99 for a bottle of Luksusowa. It’ll taste great as long as you keep it away from the clutches of brand conscious models and out your freezer.


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