Consumer: Revolution Vodka Bar remembers 1996

This March saw the tenth anniversary of the launch of Revolution Vodka Bar. Owned by Inventive Leisure, it is the world's largest chain of vodka bars. The company wanted to mark the milestone with a raft of promotional events at its 43 venues across the UK.

Campaign Ten years of loving vodka
Client Revolution Vodka Bar
PR team JDA Public Relations
Timescale Feb -March 2006
Budget Under £5,000

JDA PR was hired to create a campaign centred around the launch year, 1996. The appointment marked the first time that PR had been used to promote the brand.

To drive awareness of the Revolution Vodka Bar chain. To drive footfall at  the venues during February and March, and boost sales. To ensure media coverage contained the message that the brand is a vodka specialist with a decade's experience.

Strategy and Plan
With a budget of just £5,000, JDA PR decided to concentrate on targeting local listings magazines, as well as
entertainment and food and drink journalists. It then ran three nights themed around 1996 on successive Thursdays in March.

JDA promoted these through press packs, which contained photos and facts about the year, as well as a history of particular bars and the story of how vodka was first created.

Images used to conjure up 1996 nostalgia included those of football tournament Euro 96 - for which England was the host nation - the Spice Girls (whose debut single Wannabe was released that year) and British film success Trainspotting.

News angles offered to journalists included the historical sales figures of each Revolution Vodka Bar, as well as a breakdown of each region's vodka and cocktail preferences. The chain also ran a competition through lifestyle magazines and newspapers, offering entrants the chance to win a ‘VIP night out' at a Revolution bar for themselves and ten friends.

Will Ockenden, JDA PR account manager, says: ‘Because the budget was low we could only target a few journalists, and had to make sure they had everything they needed.'

Measurement and Evaluation
The campaign generated 40 stories, spanning listings magazines, regional press, radio stations and local TV.
This included a double-page spread in Leeds Guide, under the headline ‘Children of the Revolution', and an
article in the Manchester Evening News titled ‘Toast 10 Revolutionary Years'.

The latter paper was seen as a particularly important publication because  the city it serves had the first Revolution bar, on Manchester's Oxford Road. Other coverage included a rolling news item on Manchester cable channel Channel M, and ‘preview' articles in London's Metro.

According to JDA PR, 87 per cent of coverage mentioned the brand's vodka heritage and the fact that the Revolution chain was ten years old. All regional coverage mentioned the relevant local bar. The target for such branded coverage was 75 per cent.

Revolution was unable to supply national sales figures, but as an indicator the Leeds bar reported a 25 per cent revenue boost over the three themed Thursdays.

Amy Hughes, deputy editor of Leeds Guide, says: ‘This anniversary was a fun campaign. Revolution didn't take itself too seriously, and the competition helped.'

Second Opinion: Gabrielle Shaw, managing director of Gabrielle Shaw Communications

This was an impressive campaign considering its £5,000 budget. The vodka and bar markets are cluttered, and brands need to develop exciting platforms that allow for broader lifestyle positioning.

What's most impressive is that they have created content with substance - something that editors really appreciate. This is not in-your-face PR, but a clever grassroots campaign where a good idea has helped to stretch a budget.

The press prefer a collaborative approach with content that goes beyond the product - it always produces coverage that is far more powerful in terms of messaging for clients, and is more authentic. JDA PR achieved this with Revolution Vodka Bars, although it was fortunate in having a genuine regional story with 43 outlets.

I also loved the retrospective/nostalgia angle - JDA is right on trend here. Look at the plethora of Channel 4 programmes looking at past ads/films/music videos.

The vodka sector has seen year-on-year growth and is the fastest-growing spirit in world.

It is therefore important for Revolution to maximise brand awareness - and it has championed vodka for more than ten years with great success.

The anniversary campaign highlights Revolution's position as the original vodka bar in the UK, and as a vodka trailblazer. It should continue to build upon this credibility because it has a heritage that others can only envy.

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