Gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin

Cold River Vodka

Cold River Vodka — MEDIA CAMPAIGN


  • Quickly garner widespread, positive media coverage of Cold River Vodka’s gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Maine
  • Continue positioning Cold River Vodka (CRV) as a premium, small batch, Maine-made vodka

CRV needed a rapid response to a potential publicity opportunity that developed when the company decided to make a gift of CRV, “the Spirit of Maine,” to visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Time was critical. Nancy Marshall Communications (NMC) learned of the proposed gift on June 28 and President Putin would be visiting on July 1. The media  surrounding the visit was already widespread in local, national and international media and
focused on the diplomatic talks between Presidents Putin and Bush, and on the lighter side, what kind of fishing the leaders might be involved in. NMC was faced with the dual challenge of creating a quality media outreach effort in a short time, but also one that would achieve results in a media environment that was already saturated with coverage of the foreign president’s visit. In addition, Russia’s affinity for vodka is well-known and any gift of the spirit would have to be perceived as being of a very high-quality to meet not only the political position of the recipient, but also a discerning palette.

NMC’s budget for the project was $1,000. Given the rapid response time, no extensive planning was conducted. Nancy Marshall, upon learning of the gift, capitalized on her extensive media network and contacted Dave Sharp at the Associated Press. In addition, Marshall was able to give several television reporters a tip about the impending gift at another media event she attended the day before Putin was to be presented with CRV.

The following day, NMC staff traveled to the CRV distillery to take photos of the vodka that was being presented, worked quickly to develop a targeted media list, and distributed the press release. Marshall made calls to local television stations to follow up on the release and pitch the story while simultaneously coordinating with CRV and U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe’s office to ensure proper international relations protocol was followed.

Extensive media coverage of the gift highlighted the top-shelf quality of CRV, noting it was handcrafted from Maine potatoes and a local aquifer, comments that reinforced the brand qualities as a premium, small batch spirit. The rapid media blitz resulted in a total ad equivalency of $51,181.09. This included eight stories in foreign outlets, including the International Herald Tribune and The Moscow Times. National results totaled nine, and the story appeared in outlets such as, and Local results also totaled nine and included two daily newspapers and major television network affiliates WCSH, WMTW, and WLBZ.