A while back we wrote about a phenomena that took bros by storm across the United States. The viral game has garnered media attention for the brand and also helped move cases of the beverage. The girly beverage of the alcopop kind would have never found an audience amongst the bro crowd, but it did just because of this game. But Smirnoff’s parent company Diageo was not pleased with the way their brand has been used and decided to close the game’s main website brosicingbros.com which now shows a blank page with the message “We had a good run Bros..” on it.
This was certainly a marketing and PR misstep by Diageo, the only way they could make it worse is by taking legal action against those behind the website. Now it is totally understandable if Smirnoff’s Marketing execs groaned with their palms across their faces when they first heard about this game but they should have capitalized on it instead of icing it. This can be poison to the brand, especially since the whole game is based on the perception that the drink is a girly and will make you gag, but there were ways that they could have spun the exposure to their advantage.
Now the main concern for Smirnoff is that it would have been inevitable, sooner or later, that some accident that involved ‘icing’ would occur and they would be left to do the clean up. Hence they attempted to distance themselves early on, but they went beyond the call of duty in what they have done by appearing antagonistic towards the bros icing bros. By doing so they are risking a Barbra Streisand effect in which they will call upon the wrath and attention of the internet, they should’ve instead made a statement distancing themselves from the game and moved on to hi-jack the message of the game.
Social media advertising and marketing is a certainly a two way street and brands should be able to react quickly to how fans are utilizing their brand, and instead of coercing them into stopping the brand should be able to convince them to get in line and promote the brand properly, something Apple does really well. In this case Smirnoff should have contained the campaign by probably participating with spoof of icing incidents and promoted responsible drinking through those ads. So instead of capitalizing on a new found market for their products and reacting quickly to the ever changing landscape of social media marketing they decided to just toughen up and alienate everyone that was involved in the game. A game that got so pervasive that it had people like Mike Zuckerberg and Denis Crowley of Foursquare participated in it.
Lesson’s that need to be learned by Smirnoff
- Marketing in the Social Media Age is agile, it is more about containing and redirecting that it is about blocking, limiting and censoring. As a brand you should avoid outright censorship on social media by all means, because the internet perceives the act as a cardinal sin and your brand might be crucified on the altar of freedom.
- Branding is a two way street and people through social media have more power over the brand than the marketing department does. So whatever they do, the brand needs to react positively and rely on their true fans to come to their defense before relying on their lawyers.
So what do you think of “icing”? Did Smirnoff react in a constructive manner? Let us hear your thought.