How do you market vodka?

Creating the Vodka of Tomorrow

When other vodka brands have much larger budgets, how do you communicate points of difference and convince people to buy from a smaller, New Zealand made brand?

How do you effectively market vodka?

It’s not a rhetorical question. By definition, vodka is a neutral, unflavoured spirit. So, any marketing campaign had to demonstrate a real point of difference between Broken Shed Vodka and its competitors in the premium and super-premium categories, without necessarily relying on flavor. These brands also have much larger budgets to communicate their message. 

Broken Shed Mule Water

What makes Broken Shed different?

In spite of the challenges presented by the market context, Broken Shed Vodka has some distinctive points of difference:
Made in New Zealand;
Uses only three ingredients;
Two of them are water.
Broken Shed Vodka is sustainably created using whey: a by-product of New Zealand’s dairy industry.

Who's buying Broken Shed?

While specific laws governing alcohol sales differ from state-to-state, broadly speaking, America has a three-tiered system distribution system most New Zealand companies will be unfamiliar with. With a mix of third-party data and Broken Shed staff interviews, we developed our customer personas to target each of the three tiers. 

First, our consumer, the Grounded Explorer. Affluent, well-educated 21 -35-year-olds. They’re environmentally considerate, care about sustainability, and love exploration and travel. 

Secondly, our on-premise audience, the Experience Driven Mixologists. These primarily urban, 30-to 35-year-olds, enjoy creating new experiences, quality ingredients and how spirits are created. 

Finally, the Incentivised Salespeople. These largely older, experienced distributors are interested in trying and promoting new brands, but need to be confident that the brands will sell. 

The creative challenge was telling our unique story to these three audiences in a way that sets us apart from the big brands, while generating enough awareness to move the needle, on a shoe-string budget. 

Creating the Vodka of Tomorrow

In developing the ‘Vodka of Tomorrow’ campaign concept, as well as sales and distribution tools, we presented multiple concepts to salespeople and actively sought feedback from those working in the alcohol industries across each of the six priority markets we were targeting. Their input and feedback was valuable, both for the creative process, and for developing collateral that was going to cut through the noise and resonate with American consumers. 

Every premium vodka brand highlights ‘quality’ as an attribute. Our focus was less on flavor and taste, and more about how the Broken Shed brand makes you feel. Our market research showed we should tap into perceptions of New Zealand, and relate to North Americans who perhaps have ambitions of traveling to New Zealand.  

New Zealand is a place of adventure and character. So naturally, every sip of Broken Shed should inspire good times and good stories, and quench your thirst for discovery. Our vodka is completely free of additives, sweeteners and GMOs. It’s naturally-free of gluten at every step of the process. And the way we make it celebrates and protects the purity of our beautiful New Zealand environment 

The background of the artwork is two-tone, representing both the rising and setting sun, with the Broken Shed Vodka bottle sitting directly in the middle. Light coming from the top left corner of the image casts a shadow that falls towards the bottom right. This represents the two time zones, and the 18 hour time difference between New Zealand and parts of North America. 

A simple branding message

To complement the literal elements around the ‘Vodka of Tomorrow,’ we created a series of headlines highlighting Broken Shed’s commitment to sustainability and other progressive, forward-thinking ideas. For example:  

“Three ingredients. Two of them water.” 

“Forget what vodka should be. This is what vodka can be.” 

The simplicity of the presentation speaks to the simplicity of the vodka. No GMOs, no added sweeteners or artificial flavors. Even though we are targeting an American audience, it was important to us that Broken Shed Vodka’s tone of voice still be inherently ‘Kiwi.’ Using understated, wry humor, in a slightly self-deprecating way helped cut through the ‘louder’ American-sounding brands, in the same way that made Flight of the Conchords famous. 

Throughout creative executions we ensured that The Vodka of Tomorrow had consistent and clear messaging: New Zealand’s premium vodka is confident, aspirational and a step ahead. It’s made by forward-thinkers for those wanting to embrace whatever tomorrow brings.

Coupled with vibrant colors, reminiscent of both the setting and rising sun, this creative had a bold impact across OOH and print, propelling Broken Shed to become the fastest growing imported vodka brand in the U.S for 2022, with a 4-year growth rate surpassing all others in its class. 

Key Campaign Results

Impressions from new VOT campaign

16.4 million

2020-21 increase in US 9 liter bottle sales


Smart campaigns, driving results

As of 2023, Broken Shed is the fastest growing vodka in the United States for the third year in a row. Yes, it helps to have a deliciously clean and smooth vodka that people want to buy. But continuing this growth against players with much bigger brands and budgets shows we understand how to bring together all of the elements that make an impactful creative campaign. 

Do you need some help standing out in a crowded market? Let's talk.

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