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Bros No Longer Icing Bros

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Was it brilliant marketing or consumer-generated? A Minyanville special investigation.

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Few living human beings are unfamiliar with the drinking game "Bros Icing Bros."

If a bro presents another bro with a Smirnoff Ice (DEO), said bro must drop to one knee and drink the entire bottle in one go, to the delight of others in attendance.

A bro may block the icing by presenting his own (preemptively hidden) bottle of Smirnoff Ice to the bro attempting to perform the initial icing. A successful ice block requires the initial bro to chug both bottles, again, to the delight of others in attendance.

Many bros on Wall Street fell victim to workplace icings -- accounts of bros at Goldman Sachs (GS), Raymond James (RJF), and hedge fund D.E. Shaw quickly spread. Unverified rumors of icings at Citigroup (C) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) were also reported.

As it spread beyond the financial services sector, icings began occurring with alarming frequency. Even Buzz Aldrin was the victim of an attempted icing by Foursquare Co-Founder Naveen Selvadurai at a Webby Awards afterparty on Monday:



(Aldrin, a recovering alcoholic, was permitted to retain his membership in the legion of bros for medical reasons.)

Then, yesterday, BrosIcingBros.com was suddenly taken down and replaced with this:



Was it a brilliant marketing scheme by Diageo to juice sales of the sickly sweet, urinal cake-flavored malt beverage? Or was it "consumer generated" as Diageo insists?

BrandChannel.com speculates that Diageo, "whether it was behind the prank or not," has squashed it.

"Sooner or later a teenager will crash a car or be injured after an icing incident and the local news anchor will lead the evening with a report about 'the latest teen alcohol game,' a mention of Bros Icing Bros, and then of the Smirnoff brand." they write.

Others point to the sponsorship of ESPN's (DIS) afternoon show Pardon the Interruption by Smirnoff Ice soon after the icing phenomenon emerged this spring, as proof positive that Diageo intended to capitalize on the cultural meme to an audience of sports fans.

But, in fact, Smirnoff Ice has been sponsoring PTI since 2003. And BrosIcingBros.com was not registered until April 8, 2010:

WHOIS information for BrosIcingBros.com:
Domain Name: BROSICINGBROS.COM
Creation Date: 08-apr-2010


And this, bros, is where the plot thickens.

Attempts to uncover the name of the person who registered BrosIcingBros.com were thwarted, as the guilty party set up the site using the service Domains By Proxy.

From its home page:



Domains By Proxy goes on to explain:

Domains By Proxy was conceived to deal with one of the biggest shortcomings of the Internet -- the loss of privacy. We believe you should be able to keep your personal information private when you register a domain -- and now you can, by switching your "public" registration to a "private" one, using our patented private registration process.

So if you want to keep your personal information private and still retain full benefits of domain registration, then a "private registration" is for you. Your identity is nobody's business but ours.


Sadly, the only way to skirt the company's privacy policy is to be a law enforcement officer conducting an active investigation and subpoena the records.

A call placed to Joe Doss, customer service manager at WiredTree, the Web hosting service used by BrosIcingBros until it went offline, didn't turn up any useful information.

"I am unable to give you any information due to our privacy policy," he said

The New York Times reported that "members of Pi Kappa Alpha at the College of Charleston said they were the first to put the rules online, posting to BroBible.com in early April."

When contacted by Minyanville, communications officer Barbara Perkins of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity headquarters in Memphis said:

I don't have any knowledge about that at all. I really have no idea about this icing thing. Maybe I haven't been paying attention. It doesn't sound like it's something Pi Kappa Alpha-based, though.


Getting in touch with the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at the College of Charleston itself turned into another dead end, as its own website has also been taken down:



In an statement emailed to Minyanville, Diageo spokeswoman Zsoka McDonald wrote:

We want adults to enjoy our brands responsibly, not recklessly through drinking games. Unfortunately, continued media coverage only serves to further this potentially dangerous activity.

The "icing" phenomenon was not created by and is not supported by Diageo. It is counter to Diageo's values, and violates our marketing code, of which we are very proud.

Diageo has taken measures to stop this misuse of its Smirnoff Ice brand and marks, and to make it clear that "icing" does not comply with our marketing code, and was not created or promoted by Diageo, Smirnoff Ice, or anyone associated with Diageo.


Trademark and copyright lawyer Annette Heller told Advertising Age that Diageo could even have a legal case against whoever the culprit behind icing was.

"I would say there is a case because of disparagement of the product and using the name in association with this game," she said. "They [BrosIcingBros.com] are using the trademark in a way that disparages the product and exposing Smirnoff to liability."

Copycat sites have already popped up, like NationOfIce.com:

Mohawk Bro Gets ICED in Winnipeg, MB, Canada!

BrosIcingChicks:


And YouGotIced!
:


BroBible.com claims to have cracked the case (perhaps containing 24 lukewarm bottles of Smirnoff Ice?):

The BrosIcingBros guys approached us a couple days ago, inquiring if we were interested in purchasing their site. The attempt to cash in made sense for them -- they were getting a ton of traffic and media attention over the past couple weeks, and they sported 20,000 Facebook fans. Their asking price, however, didn't make any sense. They wanted a minimum of five figures (five figures!), and gave us and other like-minded sites until "Friday" to make our best bid. Considering we were thinking of offering about five cases of grape, pineapple, and passion fruit Ices for the site (or maybe a nice lunch at Lure, Curbed-/Gawker-style), we weren't too chagrined to see that someone snatched it up with an offer they apparently couldn't refuse. We're guessing the site will relaunch or redirect within the next day or two, and there will be plenty of more Icing photos to post (they get about 100 submissions a day and only post five or six).


Does this mean the end of icing as we know it?

A bro contacted by Minyanville, who insisted on anonymity and requested he be referred to as "Bro Paterno," had this to say:

Even though it likely hasn't even arrived in middle America yet, I already felt icing was losing steam with all the mainstream attention it had received. Now, if Diageo has made BrosIcingBros take down their site that's gotta be the last straw for any bro who is ahead of the bro curve. Real bros will no longer fund their bottom line. Fourth of July could be a major holiday for icing because a lot of bros haven't seen their bros in a while, but I don't think it will make it til Labor Day. Some might even say we're headed for the Bropocalypse of Icing.


A true investigator leaves no stone unturned, and a call was placed to the office of former US Senator John Breaux, in an attempt to ascertain if the one-time Louisiana legislator had any connection to BrosIcingBros.

A staffer who declined to give her name said simply, "Senator Breaux is in meetings and is not available to comment on this matter."

Was Diageo involved in a spectacularly successful viral marketing campaign?

Probably not.

Does the unidentified bro at the College of Charleston who takes credit for the invention of icing have an incredibly bright future in Internet marketing?

Absolutely.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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