Smirnoff - Infamous Since 1864

Smirnoff makes its 155 years by embraces it’s termultuous and ‘infamous’ backstory and launching its first global campalign in 25 years

By: Tiff Christie|October 19,2019

When the world is in turmoil, it’s not just the people that suffer but also the liquor brands that get caught up in the conflict.

This is perfectly exemplified by Smirnoff, who although once, the Vodka to the Czar, found itself needed to be ‘spirited’ away (to avoid the Czars’ bullet-riddled end) only to transverse a somewhat byzantine path to eventual global success.

It is that story, one of an isolated brand, clinging to hope, as it fled Russia amid revolution. Sure, you might know the story, after all it’s a familiar one. But from Smirnoff’s perspective, the tale of an alcohol brand overcoming hardship to become one of the world’s largest liquor brands, is a story that hadn’t truly been told.


But it seems that Smirnoff has decided to meet it’s historic struggle-to-riches story head on with their first global campaign in 25 years, entitled “Infamous Since 1864.”

The story It tells of Smirnoff’s roots in Russia to then be resurrected in France, before making its way across Europe and being at the forefront of the cocktail revolution in the US in the 1950s.

“It’s not a documentary. Nobody wanted to make a documentary,” said Justine Armour, the creative director for the agency that created the spot, 72andSunny. She told Adweek, “The original Smirnoff was put in front of a firing squad twice or three times, escaped prison, crossed borders—he wasn’t a clean-cut guy.

“Fortunately there’s so much exciting truth in the brand that we had to work with, she continued. “But the brand does have a really great story to tell.”


She’s of course referring to Vladimir Smirnov, who changed his name to Pierre Smirnoff after escaping a prison camp in Ukraine and eventually resettling in France. And in case you think she’s being dramatic, according to some sources that Adweek discovered, he was actually brought before a firing squad five times.

Neil Shah, the global marketing director of Smirnoff added, “While some of our campaigns and initiatives have run in multiple markets over the last few years, this is the first global integrated marketing campaign of its kind and scale in the brand’s recent history.”

The ad, which pays tribute to the brands 155-year history, is directed by Rupert Sanders, the man behind films like Snow White and the Huntsman and Ghost in the Shell.

After making its debut in Europe, the campaign will then roll out to further international markets including the US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Kenya.

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