SKYY vodka’s distinctive, long lean blue bottle made it a major standout when it launched. Its strikingly different shape and color reflected the West Coast cool of its origins as well as the fresh smooth taste of the vodka inside. Clearly, competitors in transparent glass bottles couldn’t match it for contemporary style and attitude.

Then everything changed. An explosion of ultra-premium vodkas appeared on the scene. Squat bottles, curved bottles, frosted and imprinted bottles betokened a new level of premium. SKYY kept its distinctive blue shelf presence but lost a bit of its edge in this sea of newness. Sales points also changed with the introduction of these fresh brands. The price tag of the most popular premium brand was reduced and now equaled SKYY’s slightly lower price point. Plus, a slew of brands with alternative cachet came in priced lower than them all.

SKYY had a choice: compete on price or reclaim their territory. They decided to show their true blue spirit and up their visibility, and came to Viceroy to make that happen. We provided strategies on how to increase their packaging presence long term. But we also came to the table with a short-term strategy that would get people taking another look, talking, and purchasing even sooner. A limited edition bottle for the holidays would provide the perfect opportunity to play on the brand’s visual strength and try on a luxury outfit. And it would appear just when people were traversing liquor stores in search of luxurious gifts and extravagant celebratory libations.

Our concept: a baroque pattern in blue velvet flocking, making the bottle appear as if it had been dressed by royalty. The blue-on-blue effect would stress the brand’s attributes: its fresh, cool taste and individualistic attitude. SKYY loved the proposal. Now all we needed to do was get it done. Creating this kind of repeating velvet pattern on a glass bottle had never been tried before. We hypothesized that it was possible and determined how it could be accomplished, via a patterned mask that velvet flocking could be sprayed through directly on the bottle.

We presented our vision to a bottle decorator in France we’d worked with before. They questioned the likelihood of success until we took them through our proposed process. After that, they were eager to take the project on but their estimate was too high. Way, way too high. We searched for other manufacturers who could crack the velvet flocking code without breaking the bank and located a bottle decorator in Mexico who achieved the special effect majestically—and within budget. So SKYY was able to enhance its level of sophistication and keep the brand at its usual price point per our original strategy, maintaining its image as both a smartly priced premium and an innovative take on vodka.

SKYY Velvet was a double attention-getter on shelf next to the slew of other vodkas. The blue baroque effect was a chance to dress up for the holidays, and make people look at SKYY in a premium way again. It made such an impression; SKYY couldn’t meet demand even though over three hundred thousand units had been produced. In the generous spirit of the holidays, a portion of proceeds from sales of the blue baroque bottle went to the AmFAR charitable foundation. The bottle won the GD/Graphic Design USA award, won the attention of holiday shoppers and won back the hearts of vodka lovers, making it top of mind not just for the season, but also into the New Year and beyond.