If you’re not a “bro”, you may have yet to learn about the latest trend that has quickly gone viral. Bros Icing Bros is a very simple game that has put a major spotlight on Smirnoff Ice, a drink that wasn’t very popular among the male population until this craze started. Here’s how it works: If you whip out a Smirnoff Ice and present it to one of your bros, he must then drop to one knee and chug it, no matter where he is at the time (sorry, even church isn’t an exception!).
A New York Times article today about the popular game states Smirnoff has denied that Bros Icing Bros is an elaborate viral marketing campaign the company started. I buy it. Regardless of whether or not Smirnoff can take credit for this creative/ridiculous game, it is obviously gaining attention for the brand and boosting sales in some markets. Dudes are actually buying Smirnoff Ice now because “it’s the cool thing to do.”
So is Bros Icing Bros good or bad PR for Smirnoff? I agree with Dick Martin, a former executive VP at AT&T who’s quoted in the New York Times article. The game is “an implicit slur on the beverage’s taste.” It also goes against something many alcoholic beverage companies preach – drink responsibly. While Bros Icing Bros may somewhat benefit Smirnoff in the short term, it’s really a case of the “joke’s on you”. Guys find it hilarious to watch their friends chug these drinks because they taste like crap.
If you were on the Smirnoff PR team, would you look at this game as a boost to your brand? Is there a way Smirnoff can capitalize on Bros Icing Bros and turn it into a more long-term and positive awareness-raising campaign for the drink? I’m not so sure. One thing’s certain – there’s nothing Smirnoff can or should do to stop the icing. I think the game will eventually dry up, but it will have to run its course.
The question of whether or not a consumer-generated viral trend does any good for the company/brand at the center of it reminds me of the recent Facebook meme where people put the color of their bra in their status updates in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month (Mashable’s post mentions that women in Detroit started the trend). It’s unlikely a breast cancer-affiliated nonprofit started the campaign, but Amy Mengel and other bloggers raised a good point: What did it accomplish? Sure, it went viral, but there was no call to action to visit a breast cancer organization’s website or to donate to breast cancer research. However, commenter Lindsay Allen mentioned that Good Morning America reported traffic to the Susan G. Komen Foundation website increased by 2,000 percent during the time women were disclosing their bra color.
In a perfect world, a trend that hits viral status would bring positive attention to a company/brand/product and in turn boost sales…regardless of whether the company or Joe Schmoe from the neighborhood started the trend. As evidenced from the above two cases, we don’t live in a perfect world.
What do you think about Bros Icing Bros? Is it good or bad PR for Smirnoff? Do you think it will fizzle quickly or continue for awhile?