Before the rules of alcohol adverstising changed in 1975, this legendary poster campaign seemed to suggest that a mere first sip of Smirnoff vodka was a life melting, transformative experience. Substitute the word ‘heroin’  for ‘Smirnoff’ and it still makes sense. The campaign was the work of the London-based Young and Rubican agency and was, in terms of sales, fantastically successful. Marketing Director at the time, Tim Ambler, recalls that the ‘the effect is shattering’ line had to be removed and that the campaign was eventually weakened by ‘creatives trying to be clever rather than visceral’. The Warren Beatty-esque pinstriped accountant (below) graced many a teenage bedroom wall in the 70s before complaints led to its withdrawal. Also withdrawn was one described by Tim as ‘a naked housewife with a wild horse’!  The only image which did not have a positive impact on sales was the one of the wayward librarian, above. Research later showed that much of the target audience actually aspired to be librarians and had no desire to be led astray by that devastating sip of Smirnoff.

['It was tea for two until we discovered Smirnoff']

Thanks to Tim Ambler for the images in this post

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