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Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation American Gin inspires comedian Yakov Smirnoff to change his name

In a parody ad created for National Vodka Day, Aviation American Gin teams with Ukrainian-American actor, comedian and writer Yakov Smirnoff, who admits that he’s more of a gin man.

Ryan Reynolds is up to his regular antics. The actor’s gin label Aviation American Gin today unveiled a rollicking new spot starring comedian Yakov Smirnoff.

Developed by Reynolds’ creative production company Maximum Effort, which in June was acquired by connected television player MNTN, the ad was created in celebration — or mockery — of National Vodka Day.

In the spot, Reynolds narrates a brief recap of the comedian’s debut on the American comedy scene in 1977. Viewers glimpse a clip from a standup set in which Smirnoff quips: “In Russia, there is three drinks: it’s vodka, two glasses of vodka and a bottle.” But lo and beyond, the statement, which implied Smirnoff was a vodka fan, was a farce, Reynolds tells viewers. The film cuts to a present-day Smirnoff, who says, “Vodka is like bread in Russia — except it’s cheaper and we never run out of it.” And while people assume he must love vodka, Smirnoff says he's “actually a gin man.” He sips an Aviation martini. And to prove his love and allegiance to the spirit, the comedian changes his legal name from Yakov Smirnoff to Yakov Aviation American Gin.

The new spot debuts today on YouTube and on Instagram.

The brand believes its flavor profile makes it a good candidate for winning over a portion of vodka loyalists. "Functionally, Aviation Gin has playfully nudged itself into the vodka drinker's mind being a more botanical-forward enhancement to standard vodka drinks. A standard screwdriver can become a stud finder when vodka is replaced with Aviation Gin,” the company's senior brand manager Adrian Molina tells The Drum. "We felt the standard drinking holiday of National Vodka Day was ripe for some tongue-in-cheek affection and admiration.”

Last year, Aviation American Gin was acquired for a reported $610m by beverage giant Diageo — whose portfolio of over 200 brands includes Guinness, Bulleit, Cîroc, Don Julio, Tanqueray and yes, even Smirnoff. From 2020 to 2021, the Diageo saw net sales rise 8.3%. Brand marketing initiative’s like Reynolds’ Aviation American Gin stunts could catalyze further growth.

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