Needless to say, this is all about America's youth finding a new way to drink too much. The problem for Diageo and Smirnoff is fivefold:
- It appears to be increasing sales of the drink, which is good for the brand.
- The game is based on the premise that most people find Smirnoff Ice disgusting, which is bad for the brand.
- It's a party game, and Smirnoff Ice's entire brand equity is tied to parties, which is good for the brand.
- The game is premised on binge drinking, which is bad for the brand.
- Did I mention the part about increasing sales?
Icing is consumer-generated, and some people think it is fun ... We never want under-age 'icing' and we always want responsible drinking."Some people think it is fun"? That's an endorsement, not a criticism. The company couldn't even bring itself to say they're against it. The Smirnoff Ice Facebook site also appears to be tacitly endorsing the game with a set of coded messages, including:
This summer Smirnoff Ice could crash your party.Is it just me, or do these taglines all imply some sort of threat, joke or surprise ... just like a certain well-known drinking game?
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Look, I'm not a party-pooper. I was at a barbecue recently where an icing took place and I confess it was vaguely amusing. And you can't stop young people being stupid -- that's what youth is for.
But no responsible company should take advantage if they know that consumers are abusing their product in a way that is harmful to health. I've complained about the way the booze industry ignores its own rules about discouraging alcohol abuse before. This is another example: Time to step up, Diageo.