Monday, October 17, 2005


Yet again I was surprised by how responsive the audience were for the Sunday matinee show. In most of the cities we visit on this tour the run ends with a Sunday matinee which I expected to be a bit a damp squib but instead it is turning out to be a really enjoyable way to bid farewell to each venue.

Smirnoff make vodka don't they? When I see the Smirnoff brand on a bottle I think it's reasonable to assume that it probably contains vodka. I mean, that's what they do. I'm not much of an alcopop consumer but I was pretty sure that I knew that Smirnoff Ice was some kind of vodka drink because, well, because it has Smirnoff on the label.

Not in America it's not.

A friend had a bottle the other day and on tasting it remarked, "that's odd... it doesn't taste the same as it does in England." They took another swig, pulled a face and took a look at the label where they were surprised to see some small print declaring it to be a 'flavored beer drink.' We were slightly aghast at this... it made no mention of vodka being in there... in fact it didn't appear to contain anything that it should have done. Not even the 'u' in flavour.

If you don't believe me, check out their own F.A.Q. where, amongst the self serving questions, you'll discover that vodka isn't in Smirnoff Ice because it was "created as a beer alternative" ... unless you're buying it in Canada, Brazil, Ireland, South Africa or of course England when yes, it does actually contain vodka.

There's probably some law preventing Smirnoff (and other alcopop makers) from selling them with spirits in here in America but is it reasonable to sell two identical looking - but radically different - products in two different countries. It's like picking up a tube of Pringles and then discovering that, in America, they don't actually contain any potato. Or buying a jar of Marmite and discovering that, heaven forfend, it isn't a yeast extract.

It is better to have no Marmite here at all than it is to have some phoney not-Marmite-in-a-Marmite-jar confusing innocent consumers and it would surely be better to not have this weird non-vodka-Smirnoff drink too.

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