Friday

Vodka On the Small Screen


This week’s Nip/Tuck finale was a two hour special sponsored by Smirnoff vodka. FX activated the sponsorship by branding the wrap party with Smirnoff product and signage and editing the footage of the VIP event into short vignettes that played before and after the episode.

For those that aren’t familiar, Nip/Tuck is set in a south Florida plastic surgery center, McNamara-Troy, and centers on the lives of the two doctors who own it. During the first season, the doctors got mixed up with a Colombian drug lord who forced the two to do free surgery on his drug mules. This season’s plot revolved around a serial rapist/torturer named the Carver who has been terrorizing female victims around Miami.

As the finale promised to answer the question of the Carver’s identity, Smirnoff took a risk in associating their brand with an episode focused on unmasking the identity of a rapist. In addition, the actor who played the Carver (Roma Maffia) was the only celebrity in the vignettes that mentioned the brand’s presence at the party. Now that’s how you get buzz!

Nip/Tuck is undoubtedly a series that pushes the boundaries of cable and since it revolves around the lives of successful surgeons in image conscious Miami, it is an organic fit for the Smirnoff brand. However, it is important to our industry to understand the risks that Smirnoff took in leveraging this particular episode as a platform for a Smirnoff branded experience. Clearly the architects of this deal wanted to turn heads among the show’s loyal audience and they did.

For us on the sidelines, it is interesting to recognize how two completely different alcohol brands activate their cable product placement partnerships. In the previous post we discussed Grey Goose and their show ICONOCLASTS and how the brand used a VIP party to showcase their activation.

In ICONOCLASTS, Grey Goose demonstrates that they are more than a commercial advertiser or sponsor, rather, they are television producers. In NIP/TUCK, Smirnoff is not a show producer, but rather a brand that is willing to take risks and proud to showoff these risks to a mass audience.

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