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Exclusive: After Difficult Two Years, UV Vodka Redirects With Millennial-Targeted Campaign

March 16, 2015

Longtime Impact “Hot Brand” UV Vodka has seen its upswing upended over the past two years, as difficult conditions in the vodka market have taken their toll. According to Impact Databank, UV more than tripled in volume from 2007-2012, leveraging a strong flavored vodka portfolio to rise to 1.6 million cases. In 2013, though, with the market turning toward brown spirits and vodka category competition heating up, the brand showed a slight decline, and last year it fell 17% to 1.3 million cases.

This year, UV brand owner Phillips Distilling, based in Minneapolis, is launching a new millennial-targeted campaign aimed at reinvigorating the formerly high-flying franchise. Titled “House of UV,” the push will largely focus on online content, with consumers invited to access aggregated content from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #HOUSEofUV. Additionally, the campaign will include consumer sampling events in key markets, as well as nationwide digital and retail advertising.

“In the past we’ve done a lot of traditional advertising, such as billboard and local newspaper advertising, but the times have changed with Millennials, and we’re focusing on them as our core consumers,” says Marla Burke, marketing and creative director for Phillips Distilling, adding that the campaign’s key sampling markets will include a mix of college towns, such as Fargo, North Dakota; Lincoln, Nebraska; Madison, Wisconsin; Syracuse, New York; Champaign, Illinois; and Lawrence, Kansas.

The “House of UV” launch comes as UV ($11.99 a 750-ml.) continues to face a challenging environment, especially in the flavor segment. In particular, dessert-flavored vodkas—in which UV participates with its Cake, Chocolate Cake and Whipped offerings—have significantly softened of late.

“Saturation of flavors is a challenge, and dessert flavors are slowing down,” says Burke. “However, we’re seeing success with natural fruit flavors, like our most recent launch, UV Ruby Red Grapefruit, and UV Sriracha was one of our most successful launches, so there’s room for those savory flavors as well.” According to Burke, the brand’s UV Blue Raspberry entry continues to outperform the category, and future flavor innovation will remain a priority for the brand. Two new UV flavors—including a summer fruit entry and a fall seasonal—are set to launch later this year.


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