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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Smirnoff Source: Will Lindsay Lohan Endorse the Brand?

What do you call a product that has a vodka brand name, uses malt as its alcohol base, is primarily spring water and has citrus flavoring added?

The folks at Diageo call it Smirnoff Source. I'm willing to bet it is the next target of the anti-alcohol crowd. It may also become the new favorite of actress Lindsay Lohan, who according to media reports from trusted sources such as the National Enquirer and E-Entertainment Television, has emerged from rehab rested and ready to party. Ms. Lohan's "friends" say that water bottle she is often photographed carrying contains something other than spring water. Imagine that.

Back to the new Diageo brand. Smirnoff Source is now available in the northeast. It is a 3.5 percent alcohol by volume drink that the company touts as having fewer calories and a lower alcohol content than most popular domestic beers.

Why do I think Smirnoff Source will be a target? Well the 16 ounce glass bottles and label are hard to tell apart from some bottled waters from more than five feet away. And while Diageo stresses the advantages of the lower alcohol levels, I'm sure the neo-Prohibitionists will say that the drink is a cocktail with training wheels for underage consumers. Diageo says that all labels and marketing materials, which have been approved by the federal government, clearly state that Smirnoff Source contains spring water and alcohol. Anyone want to bet that some bureaucrat flips on Diageo once the pressure mounts?

I have nothing against products like Smirnoff Source or the people who enjoy them. It's not for me, just like the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout I have in my refrigerator is not for them. I do, however, get an odd look on my face when I read a quote like the one in the Diageo press release that says: "Smirnoff Source is a new way of thinking about the beer category," said Guy L. Smith, Executive Vice President of Diageo."Smirnoff Source is the first lower-alcohol flavored malt beverage on the market that fits modern lifestyles and offers adult consumers sophisticated new drinking experiences."

A new way of thinking about the beer category? This from the guys who import Guinness Stout? When did the marketing people kidnap all of the brewers, distillers and winemakers working for this international giant and send them to an island without phone and Internet service? Imagine what Sir Arthur Guinness would have to say about Smirnoff Source. It's a good thing he has been dead for 205 years or someone would be getting a memo on Monday morning.

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