The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

When I think of vodka, I think of Russia. National drink and all. Maybe, just maybe, Poland comes to mind too. I can tell you that France does not enter my head by association.

But the distillers of Grey Goose vodka are aiming to change that. They, along with their American partners, have been letting loose with a variety of innovative and break-through-the-clutter ad and marketing approaches (New York Times, free registration required).

Hey, if we can think unequivocably of pizza and beer as wholly American cuisine, then I guess this isn't much of a stretch.

However, this notion that Grey Goose's taste is what makes it so distinctive is hogwash. Anyone who does a fair amount of drinking knows that vodka is vodka is vodka--it's all the same. It's not a spirit that can be aged or refined; in fact, the lack of refinement is what's kept it so popular for centuries. Do a blind taste test of Absolut, Grey Goose, Stolichnaya and grocery-store brand, and people will not be able to tell the difference.

This, of course, does not apply to the flavored varieties. Speaking of which, let's give a nice, big online hello to Absolut Vanilia.