The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2014

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Page 85 of 136

november 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  85 C ome back a moment to 1992: Marisa Tomei won the Academy Award for best supporting actress in My Cousin Vinnie, Michael Jackson topped the charts with Black or White and at a moment when most vodka consumed in the U.S. was from Russia and Poland, SKYY Vodka was introduced by an engi- neer in San Francisco who wanted to make a better vodka. The sleek, cobalt-blue bottle broke Old World packaging traditions and flew in the face of conventional Russian and Eastern European style vodkas, suddenly reimagining the category and elevating vodka to an American-made spirit. Now, 22 years later, SKYY is back doing what the brand does best: unleashing a bit of distilled disruption under a new campaign dubbed "West of Expected," which launched in July of 2014. Kathleen Schuart, Senior Marketing Director of White Spirits and Cordials at Campari America, says that SKYY took a look in the mirror and asked, "What is the relevant conversation" when it comes to vodka? "At 33 percent of the total spirit business in the U.S., every third case sold is vodka," says Schuart, "and when you look around the industry, it's the same old story. Beautiful guy meets beautiful girl, have a beautiful Martini in a beautiful bar and call it a day. That's not who we are. We're a West Coast brand whose unconventional views stem from our California roots. We kicked off the campaign by challenging thinking around the givens in our social lives, interactions and experiences, in a fun and clever way. For example, we're reminding people of good bar etiquette with a fun slogan: 'Your bartender has a name. It's not Hey,' and make sure to tip them well!" Expect the Unexpected The people who drink SKYY, a subset of the Millennial generation—savvy, driven, trend-setting and urban-centric—are out-and-about and seeking authen- tic quality products and experiences. For Schuart, a key focus of the West of Expected platform is to re-invigorate the "relevancy" of the vodka category and to inject fresh thinking into all its nightlife experiences. Schuart says SKYY looks at the cultural and lifestyle behaviors that they are aligned with, and "We twist it around and make it better." One example is the "SKYY Stream" program, a partnership with Boiler Room TV, the leading plat- form in underground music, to stream one-of-a-kind HD quality live DJ shows and engage consumers through social channels. Typically spirits brands would sponsor a big name DJ, indulge in logo placements and pour a bunch of product, but that would be too "expected." Instead, "SKYY Stream" has been the first-ever opportunity for fans to influence the actual Boiler Room shows by interacting Rethinks Nightlife Conventions SKYY Vodka HOW SKYY IS SERVING UP A FRESH LOOK AT THE VODKA CATEGORY WITH "WEST OF EXPECTED" by Jonathan Cristaldi / photos by Liz Clayman

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