Posted on | May 9, 2014
Written by | W.R. Tish
Cocktail fads come and go, but the classics have a combination of great taste, compelling backstory and room for flexibility that allows them to be embraced anew. As Stoli Group USA ramps up in its first year of self-importing and solidifying their vodka’s premium positioning, brand executives have tailored dynamic promotions around three cocktails. Already underway is the #SearchForMary, keying on local Bloody Mary recipes; and this summer the brand will showcase refreshing variations on Stoli-driven lemonade. Perhaps the most exciting promotion of all is the brand’s elevation of the Moscow Mule, replete with Stoli’s own branded ginger beer and signature copper mugs.
Made with vodka, ginger beer and lime, the Moscow Mule dates back to the 1940s, enjoying particular success in Hollywood and helping to fuel the vodka craze of the 1950s. The drink became a staple in the bartending canon, served in stylish copper mugs. Seizing on its most recent upswing, Stoli Group has taken steps designed to make the trend their own.
A Ginger Beer is Born
Most notably, this April the company launched Stoli Ginger Beer. Michael Oringer, Sr. Vice President of Innovation & Trade Marketing, was able to shepherd the new companion product from concept to can in just a matter of months, leveraging his prior experience in the soft drink industry.
Displaying the spicy intensity that separates it from ginger ale, pure cane sugar and triple-filtered water also help distinguish it from peers. Stoli Ginger Beer comes bar-ready in 8.4 oz. cans—perfect for two Moscow Mules. It doesn’t hurt that the can itself (the same size as Red Bull) was selected after feedback from distributor partners, consumers and trade.
The non-alcoholic ginger beer will retail in four-packs for $5.99, but Oringer explains that using it as a “catalyst” to enhance Stoli Premium positioning in both on- and off-premise is a priority. After a kickoff at the Coachella Music Festival, the Stoli Moscow Mule campaign will include hundreds of Managed Bar Nights, complete with copper mugs and bolstered by POS and social media (#RaiseYourMule). “To make sure we truly own the Moscow Mule in both on- and off-premise channels, we will be asking people to give their taste buds a kick and invite them to trade up their usual drink to a Stoli Moscow Mule,” says Oringer. He fully expects the delicious kick of the new ginger beer to inspire bartenders to make other “mules” using tequila, rum or whiskey.
Old is New Again (& Way Cool)
Stoli’s New York Brand Ambassador, Lindsay Eshelman, has already had a rave response from limited activation; she sees a mix of nostalgia and novelty fueling the campaign. “The Moscow Mule is a bartender’s dream because it’s only three ingredients and it’s delicious!” she says. “If the taste of Stoli Ginger Beer didn’t sway bartenders enough, the easy to use slim can has played a big part in winning over trade. It’s great for portion control: each can yields two perfect Stoli Moscow Mules.”
The mugs themselves may turn out to be the wild card. Eshelman explains, “The copper mugs are a huge hit. I call it the ‘me too’ effect. Bar-goers see this amazing mug come out with a frosty drink in it and have to try it. Some bars have noticed that the mugs ‘walk off’ with a guest…so a few accounts have asked to hold IDs when a Stoli Moscow Mule is ordered to make sure the mug gets returned. It’s a bit extreme, but it shows how popular the mugs really are.”