Small phone makes big splash for Smirnoff

LOS ANGELES -- It didn't take long for Smirnoff Vodka to take a shot at mobile.

The liquor giant is using the mobile channel for branding, customer engagement, entertainment and affinity -- all in an effort to provide relevant information to audiences.

"Our target audience was the male social drinker who is between the legal drinking age and 24," said Chris Lock, the head of marketing for Smirnoff. "At a low cost we were able to send highly effective and targeted messages to users and to tie our mobile efforts with the wider campaign."

Mr. Lock presented a video outlining the campaign to an audience of over 350 people at the Mobile Marketing Forum, but he did not talk about specific results of the campaign. Daniel Rosen, head of Smirnoff agency AKQA Mobile, outlined what made Smirnoff opt for mobile marketing.

"Through this campaign Smirnoff is branding just by giving people the opportunity to have something useful on their phone," Mr. Rosen said at the event organized by the Mobile Marketing Forum.

The mobile campaign gives users a Bar Finder option, which lets them find bars in their area. Smirnoff recommends places and even advises on what drinks to have that are made with its vodka. Pocket Bartender shows cocktails and how to make them so they are just right.

Smirnoff uses age verification software to ensure minors do not get access to its vodka-centric campaign.

"It is important to adapt to the changing needs of your target audience [and] add relevance and value to your dialogue with them," Mr. Rosen said. "Deliver your marketing message into the context of consumption."

In addition, Smirnoff created a mobile WAP site at Smirnoff.mobi.

The Smirnoff.mobi site is integrated and backed by the mobile campaign, which runs across mobile portals and lifestyle sites.

This isn't the first time Smirnoff has tested the mobile waters.

In a promotion targeting the "clubbing crowd," Smirnoff offered a free dance CD in every six-pack of Smirnoff ICE. Inside the CD was a unique code and instructions to text the code to a special number to immediately find out if an expense-paid clubbing vacation had been won. The British event generated over 200,000 responses.

Mobile phone usage is up all over the world. There are 405 million subscribers in Europe and 96 percent penetration. The United States has 238 million subscribers and 79 percent penetration.

Big companies have increasingly begun to embrace the mobile channel. Brands such as Coca-Cola, Visa and Target have launched mobile initiatives to reach out to their clientele.

"There are 2.9 billion mobile subscribers worldwide and 71 percent of them report they would be happy to receive targeted marketing," Mr. Rosen said. "And the great thing is that people are still using them to make calls."