Thursday, March 8, 2007
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
If you are reading these lines — then we've succeeded in gathering people that live and think just like us. It’s 2003, and the market for slaboalkogolny (low-alcohol) kiosk beverages in the former Soviet bloc is booming. Alcotrade opens in the Ukrainian town of Zhashkiv, on the border between the Kiev and Chernihiv oblasts, drawing from "three artesian wells" and employing state-of-the-art Italian bottling equipment, according to the company’s website. Their most popular line is of Shake bottled cocktails, which follow simple Western cocktail recipes (provided with "great reluctance" by America’s Red & Blue Beverages company, who "rigidly supervise" Alcotrade's facilities). A unique twist-off opening (stick the top of one Shake into the bottom of the other) fuels a memorably suggestive ad campaign: "А кто откроет твой Shake?” (Who is opening your Shake?)*. We are all quite different — some of us are individualists, some cosmopolitans, others are Buddhists, atheists or escapists. We can be capitalists, moralists, teachers and students, dark-skinned or white. As the demand for slaboalkogolny beverage drinkers grows steadily in the former CIS, as well as further afield, Alcotrade moves to "establish the mutually beneficial relations with the foreign importers and distributors of the alcoholic drinks," targeting Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Israel and, of course, Russia. By 2005, the brightly-colored Ukrainian import is available in the majority of Moscow’s kiosks at prices of 30 to 40 rubles. That year, Shake exports 24 million bottles to capture 30.5 % of the Russian market.** (Note: The canned slaboalkogolny market, dominated by Happyland, is, ahem, an entirely different can of worms.) Sixty percent of Shake consumers are female, and the most active consumers are 18 to 20-year-olds. But we've got one thing in common: we all know that the best thing one can do with his or her life is to live it to the fullest. Shake’s popularity draws from a stylish, Western-influenced marketing campaign aimed at young drinkers at a time when such advertising for strong alcohol is forbidden. In 2003, advertising-focus group UMP finds that the drink is considered fashionable and elite, "more refined than simply vodka with juice."*** Each flavor is married to an exoticized locale or subculture: Absinth Lime to Paris, Ginero to the Brazilian Carnavale, Jungle Juice to the Amazon, etc. Open a Tequila Sombrero and you’re transported to Mexico, "the craziest place on Earth" where "lonely amigos lazily nurse their tequilas." Party suggestions are also provided for each cocktail; Tequila Sombrero begs a Day of the Dead fiesta with Shakira, body paint and leftover Ostankinskaya sausage. None left? "Just go to the nearest large supermarket and grab the most exotic food you come across." Each one of us is unique. And that's perfectly enough to be great. Each one of us is rich at least with not owing anything to anyone.
* Гаршина, Анна. “На повестке дня: «разборки» брендов.” Iskra. 13.09.2004.
** “Shake будут производить в России.” Sostav.ru. 25.05.2006.
*** “Shake It, Baby! История рождения торговой марки Shake.” Noviye Marketing. 20.01.2004