Mike Oringer, senior vice president of marketing for Stolichnaya Vodka, is an entrepreneurial executive and innovator with a proven track record of building brands, monetizing assets and cultivating new revenue streams with start up enterprises. He has also market lead consumer products companies including Coca-Cola, CBS and Procter & Gamble.
Oringer spoke with Chief Marketer about the challenges of marketing a global brand in a highly competitive market and the importance of partnering with a marketing execution firm to achieve those goals, in particular InnerWorkings, which played a big role in the positive change in Stoli’s creative execution. He also shares how to determine the success of working with those partners.
CHIEF MARKETER: In your role, what is the biggest challenge you face?
ORINGER: My biggest challenge is likely the same biggest challenge faced by many marketers working for global brands—developing and executing scalable campaigns that resonate with consumers, bartenders, retailers and distributors across North America. The ability to think nationally and act locally is incredibly important, but presents its share of obstacles when not done correctly. Juggling multiple vendors, agencies and partners to support those initiatives adds to the complexity.
CM: How do you manage that?
ORINGER: In my role, I need to ensure we create and execute premium, eye-catching, engaging and inviting P-O-S, messaging and creative for both on- and off-premise channels that ultimately will generate sustainable and profitable volume growth.
CM: How do you differentiate Stoli in such a competitive marketplace?
ORINGER: Unlike our competition, the Stoli brand has 80 years of established credibility in the spirits industry. Our marketing team has worked tirelessly to position Stoli as THE Vodka … even launching our above-the-line campaign around “Stoli THE Vodka.”
CM: How do your marketing partners fit in?
ORINGER: Our relationship with partners—like our marketing execution firm, InnerWorkings—also has helped further differentiate our brand. In particular, working with InnerWorkings enabled us to retool our creative execution processes. By pairing creative design directly with production and streamlining the full marketing supply chain, we have increased production, reduced costs and elevated our brand message resulting in strong Stoli volume growth far greater than the vodka category volume growth, which translates into Stoli gaining market share from competitors.
CM: How do you determine what you manage in-house versus outsourcing to a marketing execution partner?
ORINGER: It all comes down to complementing your team so they can do what they do best. For Stoli, we knew we needed creative expertise and visibility into procurement and production processes so we could operate more efficiently. With that in mind, it made sense for us to find a creative execution partner with a strong background in design, copywriting, project management and production capabilities encompassing all marketing channels.
CM: How do you measure the success of working with a marketing execution partner?
ORINGER: Marketers should keep partners that value quality, speed to market and have a passion for your brand. Ultimately, it’s important for marketers to look at partners as an extension of their internal marketing team. When InnerWorkings was brought on as our marketing execution partner, they seamlessly integrated with our team, giving us guidance on how to operate more efficiently from a cost and speed to market perspective as well as providing us with fresh ideas with trendiness of our creative efforts helping us protect our core demographic while also seeking to bring the new Millennial demographic into the Stoli franchise.
CM: What was the one key thing you think InnerWorkings did to get the partnership underway?
ORINGER: They literally moved on-site at Stoli to better collaborate with our team. We have four dedicated InnerWorkings creative experts and four dedicated production experts working at Stoli offices every day. They are solely dedicated to seeing our brand objectives succeed. We had specific quantifiable metrics we were trying to achieve and InnerWorkings helped us surpass these goals on all fronts:
- Over 30% in value/savings
- 2x-3x faster speed to market than former model
- 5% increase in Stoli volume vs. a flat vodka market
CM: How has working with this partner created consistency across markets for your campaigns?
ORINGER: They have essentially become our brand police. InnerWorkings understands how to cost-effectively adapt materials to different markets and audiences. They work with us to determine the feasibility of our creative ideas and steps to realistically bring them to life in a scalable way.