Not the Stoli

Here’s another reflection on drinks in TV shows.

Stolichnaya is a Russian vodka produced from wheat and rye grains. It was the first Russian vodka to be imported to the U.S. – in 1965, the first bottles of Stolichnaya appeared at select retail stores in Brooklyn. It became more widely distributed in 1972 when PepsiCo struck a barter agreement with the Russian government to enter that market. Stolichnaya was also the first to launch flavored line extensions (in 1986), and in August of 2009 added its 10th flavor, Gala Applik.

Stoli is included in the Mad Men‘s opening episode of the third season (and just a quick reminder: the third season takes place in 1963):

Roger Sterling bursts in Don Draper‘s office with a gift from his honeymoon – a pack of cigars and a bottle of Stolichnaya.

Roger: »Your girl’s gone. I have Stolichnaya and cuban cigars. I sent them from Greece.«

During their conversation Roger pours two glasses and both men light cigars. Pete Campbell then enters and expresses gratitude for his promotion. Roger invites him for a drink but at the same time warns him:

»Not the Stoli!«

Bottle of Stolichnaya vodka in Mad Men (2009, AMC, screen capture)

Andrey Skurikhin, a partner at SPI Group, which owns the Stoli brand, said that they didn’t pay for the placement. He also said that Mad Men’s production company contacted him and, he, being a fan of the show, gladly acquiesced, even producing a bottle from 1963 to conform to the show’s historical accuracy. Skurikhin said he had no idea about future placements, but is pursuing others for the vodka: “It’s one of the great tools of brand awareness.”

So true.

  1. I find it hard to believe that this sort of (personally, very powerful) placement wasn’t paid. It targets the right group, the message is extremly strong and appealing. I bought a Stoli not long after watching the episode. :)

    Erik, keep up the good work. It’s excellent.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    It’s really strange isn’t it. Great placement and a free one. Also, it created “I want to buy this product” effect.

    I’m sure I’ll buy a bottle as soon as I see one ;)

  3. I was watching Will & Grace the other day and in one scene Karen’s maid Rosario came from the store with bottles of liquor, saying: They didn’t have vodka so i bought Stoli.
    Surely they didn’t pay for that:)