Svedka’s Cyborg Is Confusing, “Sexccessful”

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It’s truly a testimony to the branding strategy of “just-stick-with-something-long-enough-and-people-will-come-around” that I am writing these words: I like the Svedka robot.

Yes, like so many others, I raised my eyebrows at the odd robot spokesperson (spokesthing?) when the Svedka vodka brand announced her (it?) to the world. But in the interim, as that bizarre robo-babe has popped up more and more, I’ve been forced to acknowledge that it’s an effective move.[more]

The Svedka “botbabe” (babebot?) was introduced in 2005. Initially, the campaign was less than well received: “Who thinks a robot would sell alcohol? what a waste of money.

Well, something’s selling Svedka. The brand’s parent, Constellation Brands, reports that in a losing Q2 for overall spirit sales, Svedka remained Constellation’s brightest star, with “double-digit gains for its popular Svedka vodka.” The report noted that for Q2 2009,  “Svedka sales rose about 90 percent.”

In the crowded vodka market, simple recall is a challenge. It seems each week sees  a new vodka brand (premium, natch) hitting shelves alongside a slick ad campaign.

The best explanation we’ve seen for why this odd spokesmodel has grown on us comes from the blog  Marketing Master Insights:

“Competition presents an immediate complication. How do you get men to look at your bikini girl poster in a public space filled with images of similar free spirits? Standing head and shoulders (and with nearly every other part of their gleaming anatomy) over all rivals, the Svedka bot girls are the solution to this problem. Since stainless steel women don’t wear clothes, nobody will be shocked by any amount of exposed sheet metal – but the idea comes through all the same… There are other advantages, too. No one seems to mind a metal Ms. being treated as a sex object. After all, a robot is an object. And with metallic grey skin (plus just a hint of rouge or a blush signaling attraction) basically the same color as the Svedka bottle, the fembot is not just associated with the product. The feminine machine essentially is the goddess or spirit of the brand.”

Svedka’s vodka-shilling robot sets the brand apart from the crowd and, as a high profile, seemingly expensive campaign, lends Svedka some high-end character. Viewed early on in a vacuum, this campaign seems incomprehensible. But when consumers stand staring at shelves packed with various vodkas, this kind of branding stands out.

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