“My dad just got iced.” I saw this status update on Facebook the other day and knew it probably had nothing to do with hockey or joint pain. A wee bit of research revealed that Icing is a new drinking game wherein someone gives a Smirnoff Ice to someone else, who must get down on one knee and chug it. If the person being “iced” pulls out their own concealed Smirnoff Ice, called “ice blocking,” the icer has to drink both bottles.
People are icing and getting iced all over the country largely due to the promotional efforts of now defunct website www.brosicingbros.com. Whether the game (and website) was conceived by Smirnoff parent Diageo (they deny having any part in its creation or promotion), or bored frat boys isn’t important. Icing reveals the value of understanding complex social relationships, not simply studying (and catering to) demographics.
The phenomenon has been studied and parodied, and there’s no denying that Icing resonates with the coveted hipster (who resurrected the PBR brand) as well as young males who ordinarily would shun the “girly” drink. While Smirnoff Ice is benefitting from a spike in consumer awareness, it will be interesting to see whether the brand can leverage the icing phenomenon for long-term gain. Will it attempt to separate itself from binge drinking and reestablish itself as the anti-beer, or will it get down on bended knee and acknowledge its uptick in sales is due not to the quality of its beverage, but to its use as a practical joke and tool of public embarrassment?
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