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Stoli Vodka Spirals After Meme Boycott

Ok, so this is old news but it was recently made into a case and published. So, I thought it would be a good time to revisit just how powerful memes and the resulting movement can be. A single Facebook meme started an avalanche of negative press that sent Stoli Vodka spiraling.

In 2013, a trend started encouraging consumers to boycott Stoli because of its brand association to Russia who was in the news for anti-LGTBQ legislation.

"John Esposito (President of Stoli USA) was dismayed. He was well aware of Stoli’s historical support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and more importantly, he knew that the brand had no influence on or cooperative relationship with the Putin government."

What is particularly interesting about this case a few things:

1. How mental associations transfer to products regardless of if the actually represent the company's beliefs.

2. In the era of social media, it is increasingly necessary to publicly take a stand as to not be grouped into an unpopular opinion.

3. A single, well-timed meme, can be devastating.

4. A boycott on Russia soon turned into a boycott on Russian brands.

5. What you know about your brand matters less than that the crowd associates with your brand.

6. The company responded with a well reasoned public statement that was largely ignored. Meme media would have been a better approach to spreading a response message.

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