Smirnoff adds hip-hop flavor to new initiative

NEW YORK: The makers of Smirnoff vodka have launched a campaign pairing three old-school rappers with contemporary MCs to create new versions of iconic hip-hop songs - and matching drinks.

NEW YORK: The makers of Smirnoff vodka have launched a campaign pairing three old-school rappers with contemporary MCs to create new versions of iconic hip-hop songs – and matching drinks.

Artists Common, Q-Tip, and KRS-One will join musical forces with Just Blaze, Cool & Dre, and DJ Premier to remix Common's “The Light,” A Tribe Called Quest's “Midnight,” and Boogie Down Productions' seminal hit “Criminal Minded.” Each artist/producer pairing has a mixed drink – made with Smirnoff flavored vodka – dedicated to it.

“Smirnoff is all about authenticity and doing something that has a positive impact on musicians,” said Ed James, the president of PR for Cornerstone, the marketing company chosen by Diageo, Smirnoff's parent, to oversee the collaboration. “These aren't commercial jingles; these are songs that mean a lot to the hip-hop community and have had a great impact over the last 20 years.”

Following a private launch party this week, at which all the artists will perform, Smirnoff will roll out its Smirnoff Signature Mix program, featuring cocktail parties with live music, in several large US cities. Additionally, top-tier radio and club deejays will receive a limited edition vinyl album containing all three remixed songs.

To reach an even larger audience, Smirnoff has put all three songs, their corresponding music videos, and the behind-the-scenes production footage on its Web site, smirnoffsignaturemixseries.com, and made them available for free downloading.

“This was such an exciting campaign, we had difficulty keeping the lid on – word started to leak out on radios and blogs late last year,” James said. “By starting now, though, we have more time to get into the public's conscience.”

In continuing with Diageo's efforts to also keep controlled drinking on the public radar, the Smirnoff site will feature messages from select performers encouraging consumers to “Mix Well, Drink Responsibly.” These clips will also air during local events.

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