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Smirnoff Ice refreshes

Already a success in the United Kingdom, Smirnoff Ice from Guinness Bass Import and United Distillers & Vintners, Stamford, CT, began rolling out in February in the United States and Canada. Called an “alco-pop,” the five-percent-proof citrus-flavored malt beverage comes in a 12-oz glass bottle with decorating reminiscent of bottles for Smirnoff’s vodka. The product is being offered exclusively for on-premise consumption in bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs.

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Anchor Glass (Tampa, FL) and Saint-Gobain (Muncie, IN) make the clear glass bottles that take on a frosted look once filled. However, unlike its sibling in England that uses a wet-glue paper label, Smirnoff Ice for America uses “no-label” look film labels from Spear (Mason, OH) for a more premium appearance. Front and back labels are 2-mil clear biaxially-oriented polypropylene film. The front label is screen-printed in five colors plus hot stamping, with one of the colors creating a two-tone metallic look over the hot stamping. Back labels are screen-printed in two colors.

Instead of the traditional wraparound neck bands, Smirnoff Ice uses a spot label of metallized OPP film printed in five colors, also taking advantage of the two-tone metallic look. A steel crown completes the package.

“Just one look at Smirnoff Ice and you know there’s nothing like it,” says James Thompson, vp for marketing at Guinness Bass. He calls it “a truly different refreshing alternative to beer. We’re confident the U.S. introduction will follow the European trend,” he says, noting that sales in the second half of 2000 reached $300 million in the United Kingdom. Last year, it was tested in Austin, TX, and Raleigh, NC. It’s brewed in both the United States and in Canada, and the introduction will be supported by a $50 million marketing campaign. (AO)

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