Many consumers are apt to store bottles of vodka in their refrigerators or freezers, causing the bottles to condensate when they’re taken out for serving. However, a new campaign for the neutral grain spirit Veev is attempting to make vodkas sweat in a different way — with anxiety.

Veev Spirits LLC, Los Angeles, recently kicked off a campaign that encourages consumers to cheat on vodka with Veev. Unlike vodka, Veev features all-natural ingredients acai berry, acerola cherry and prickly pear, making it more mixable and versatile in cocktails, says President Bryan Crowley. 

“With vodka being such a huge category, what we like to say is we’re not trying to steal every occasion; we’re just trying to steal one or two occasions, and given what we’re trying to do, that’s a huge win for us,” he says.

Nevertheless, the company hopes that the saying “Once a cheater, always a cheater” will apply to vodka consumers to keep the purchase momentum going.

“We think over time, not only will they cheat, they’ll break up completely, and that’ll become a loyal user for Veev,” Crowley says.

In order to tempt vodka consumers to purchase Veev both on- and off-premise, the company reformulated, repackaged and remerchandised the brand in coordination with its new campaign. Veev 2.0, as it’s called, features the same flavor profile but has a higher alcohol content, moving the spirit’s designation from a liqueur to a neutral grain spirit, Crowley notes. The original Veev spirit contained 30 percent alcohol by volume, whereas the new spirit has been bumped up to 35 percent alcohol by volume.

“Consumers loved the taste of 60-proof Veev, but because of its lower proof and liqueur designation, they needed to be educated on how to use it,” he explains. “Veev 2.0 was crafted as a more versatile and mixable spirit, which reinforces Veev as a better way to drink. … As a result, [mixologists] have consistently told us that Veev 70-proof can now carry a cocktail as the base spirit in a drink.”

The new Veev formulation is packaged in a redesigned 750-ml bottle with a larger, more striking logo that showcases Veev’s signature leaves. Along with the brand name “Veev,” the leaves represent life and living well, Crowley says. Next year, the company will launch a 1-liter bottle as well.

These redesigned bottles also made a significant move at retail recently to help Veev further battle vodka. The “mistress” spirit moved out of the cordials and liqueurs aisle and now is located in the vodka aisle. Hang tags call out its higher alcohol content and new look. Shelf talkers also say, “The best vodka in the aisle is not even a vodka,” Crowley notes. This move gets more eyes on Veev and also communicates how the spirit should be consumed, he says. By sitting next to vodkas on retail shelves, consumers can infer that Veev should be consumed in the same way that vodka is, he explains. Qualitative data show that the brand already is receiving increased traffic and sales just from the move to the vodka aisle, he notes. In focus markets, Veev 2.0 has grown more than 40 percent, he adds.

Crowley also notes that Veev founders Courtney and Carter Reum originally had vodka in mind when they started the company in 2007, so these changes represent more of a brand evolution than a revolution.

Bringing these changes full circle, the company invested more than $1 million in media spend for its “Cheat on Vodka” advertising campaign, which includes digital videos, display ads, outdoor ads and even a Twitter-activated vending machine where users win a prize when they “tweet to cheat on vodka.” This enables the brand to foster memorability and enhances its connection with consumers, Crowley says.

The campaign’s debut, full-length digital video called “Caught Cheating” uses humor to show a man drinking a Veev cocktail, thereby cheating on vodka, which is personified as a Russian woman sitting among sacks of potatoes. The video is running on media websites such as Esquire and UrbanDaddy.

Although the majority of Veev’s sales come from the on-premise channel, the brand’s digital, print and out-of-home advertising works together to create a 360-degree experience for the consumer both on- and off-premise, Crowley says.

Ready-to-drink lineup

On the other end of the spectrum, the company’s VitaFrute Cocktails by Veev line of ready-to-drink, premixed cocktails is available almost exclusively at retail, Crowley notes. And despite the decline of the prepared cocktails segment, he says that the VitaFrute Cocktails by Veev line doubled its growth in the first half of 2014.

According to Chicago-based Information Resources Inc., the prepared cocktails segment declined 18.2 percent in dollar sales and 16.2 percent in volume sales in supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers, gas and convenience stores, military commissaries, and select club and dollar retail chains during the 52 weeks ending Sept. 7, compared with the prior-year period. VitaFrute Cocktails by Veev, on the other hand, increased 105 percent in the first half of 2014, Crowley says. He expects the brand to finish the year at 200 percent growth compared with 2013,
he adds.

The most popular flavor in the lineup is Margarita; however, the brand’s newest flavor addition already has made its way into the No. 2 spot, Crowley notes. Coconut Colada joined the VitaFrute Cocktails by Veev line earlier this summer. The spirit combines Veev with organic coconut water and other all-natural ingredients. A bottle contains 15 percent alcohol by volume and fewer than 125 calories in a serving. The other two flavors in the lineup are Lemonade and Cosmopolitan.

The VitaFrute Cocktails by Veev line aims to differentiate itself from other ready-to-drink cocktails competing in the segment by featuring all-natural, premium flavor profiles that are not overly sweet, with a low-calorie positioning that doesn’t take away from the alcohol content, Crowley explains.

“Those who drink VitaFrute Cocktails by Veev are health conscious,” he says. “We understand that they value the perfect mixture of quality organic, all-natural ingredients and convenience our cocktails provide.”

The brand also gets an advantage thanks to the success of the company’s flagship brand, Veev.

“Because we’ve had success with [Veev] and because we sell nationwide and we’ve been one of the more successful independent brands in our space, I think that gave us a lot of leverage to work with our great distributor partners and work to get [VitaFrute Cocktails by Veev] into these key accounts and show them the value,” Crowley says.

 The ready-to-drink premixed cocktails are available nationwide in most retail chains, including Walmart, Costco, Kroger and CVS, he notes. “We continue to pick up great distribution in national and regional chains and then in local [retailers] as well,” he says.