A friend of mine recently turned me on to http://www.crystalheadvodka.com/. Named after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and promoted by none other than Dan Akroyd (who already has a few ventures under way in the spirits industry), the new product’s success will no doubt be dependent upon its packaging and promotion.

I won’t spoil it here, but it is a very clever idea that capitalizes on the appeal of cool bottles and archaeological adventure (Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code is kicking himself right about now). This new viral marketing stunt is just another example of why I’ve always liked to follow marketing and advertising in the spirits industry. Is there any other industry that offers such a palette of creative approaches? In many cases (no pun intended) the same product has multiple, totally different campaigns to resonate with its diverse audience. Think Budweiser for example.

Two things struck me about Crystal Head (well three actually, the first being, what does Canadian vodka taste like?):

  1. This is total “myth marketing,” which is essentially the opposite of “authenticity marketing,” a strategy that many spirits brands have directly or indirectly adopted. Think Jack Daniels, or Samuel Adams, or even Bacardi, which has a remarkable story that is intertwined with the intriguing history of 19th and 20th century Cuba. But if you don’t have a story, you can always make one up.
  2. So if you make your story up and “make it,” then what? If Crystal Head takes off and becomes a permanent fixture on the shelf of your local liquor store, it will be interesting to see how the brand will share its history in the future. One guess could be as a “pioneering innovator of viral marketing.” Experience with other clients who have adopted similar strategies suggests that there also will be some ambiguity between fact and fiction. Unless you’re a purist, that’s okay because sometimes myths can be a good thing if managed carefully. I can see it now. The year is 2019 and Crystal Head is celebrating its 10th anniversary. A 25-year old “brand specialist” at the Agency has a cool idea for a new marketing campaign: “Why haven’t we ever leveraged the film footage from Dan in the Indiana Jones films?”

A quick check online and it looked like getting a bottle of Crystal Head was going to put me out anywhere from $49 to $249 if I could get it. For the time being I’ll stick with a more authentic option, but I have to admit, it’s a very cool looking bottle.