Allied Domecq has unveiled a new marketing campaign for Stolichnaya vodka in the US.

Allied Domecq's popular Stolichnaya premium vodka brand is embarking on an aggressive new marketing campaign. The multi-million dollar "Frozen" promotion targets the young, male consumers most sought after by beer companies. As younger consumers increasingly choose spirits and sweeter drinks over beer, brewers may yet find themselves catching a cold from the likes of Stolichnaya.

The spirits and wine giant has announced a new, multimillion-dollar marketing campaign for Stolichnaya, its premium vodka brand. Dubbed the "Frozen" campaign, the promotion features a series of print and radio advertisements, billboards, and point-of-purchase materials implying that the vodka is best served at frosty temperatures. The promotion serves as a reminder of the liquor's Russian heritage, and further positions the brand as an upscale beverage for savvy, young, male consumers.

The new ad campaign coincides with a steady shift in the alcoholic beverage market. Datamonitor research shows that beer volumes in the US increased only 0.2% in 2003, compared to a 2.4% growth for spirits. Brewing companies are seeing sales flatten with consumers showing increasing preference for sweeter, more "refined" spirits to beer. Flavored vodkas with hints of vanilla, raspberry, orange and other fruits are gaining ground, while sweetened, energy-boosting mixers such as Red Bull and "malternative" beverages have met with similar success. Indeed, since its acquisition by Allied Domecq in 2000, Stolichnaya itself has seen strong growth.

But breweries are putting up a fight to keep beer on top. Anheuser-Busch recently announced the introduction of a new, fruit-flavored beer. Dubbed "B-to-the-E," the beverage also contains caffeine, ginseng and guarana. The new drink will be aimed at consumers aged 21 to 27, and will be packaged similarly to Red Bull. The sweetened, energy-boosting drink will not be officially released until November.

With its "Frozen" campaign, Stolichnaya is embarking on an aggressive marketing strategy to reach out to younger consumers and take advantage of spirits' current momentum over beer. Indeed, "Frozen" print ads will run in magazines such as FHM, Maxim and Playboy, whose readerships are mostly males ages 21-29 - one of the strongest demographics for beer drinkers. As Allied Domecq targets the brewers' typical demographic, it looks as if beer may be left out in the cold.