Can You Handle The Truth About Your Brand?


Honest feedback about your product or service can be a double-edged sword – sometimes it can cut deep, but if you don’t welcome it your business may slowly bleed to death as customers drop off one by one.

In a brave move, the Russian vodka Pravda capitalised on its name, which means “truth” in Russian, and went with a “market research” campaign to build brand awareness on its recent entry to the US market.

Amy Corr from Media Creativity tells all in her post Vodka Drinkers Tell Truth About Taste:

Philadelphia residents gave their unadulterated opinions on the taste of various vodka brands — especially Pravda, the luxury vodka named for the Russian word for “truth.”

With the brand now available in the United States, Pravda focused on the city of Brotherly Love in an effort to gauge drinkers’ opinions on the vodka’s taste compared to brands currently on the market.

Pravda organized taste tests from April through July at a number of bars, targeting 25- to 45-year olds.

After blind-tasting Pravda vodka along with an assortment of other brands, participants were given business cards with the URL and a phone number to call and let loose on their experience. A drunk dialer that’s actually welcomed.

Users anonymously left voicemails for Pravda, revealing their honest opinion of the brand. These messages, whether they were good, bad, or downright inarticulate, were converted into mp3 files and posted online for the world to listen.

What do you think? Is this a clever marketing move in the age of transparency? Would you put your brand up for a public taste test and display the results for all the world to see?


  1. This is a perfect brand strengthener. What could be more authentic for a company called Pravda, or truth, to be confident and open enough to actually tell the truth? And, perhaps, best of all this strategy immediately connected the brand to its future customers and earned their respect. Very smart move indeed!

  2. William Profet :: says

    Hi Danielle,

    I think that feedback is one of the most important things in branding – you have to know what really is the position of your brand and the opinion of your customers about it.

    But to show all feedback results in public, without filtering them is a really brave move. This the pure truth, but it could be painful. 🙂

    I would do this move (I am afraid, but I would do it :)), for two main reasons:

    1) I will get the real feedback.
    2) I will get the buzz. (Either I’ve got good or bad feedback, the people start talking about my brand).

    Regards and thanks for the idea! 🙂

  3. Hi William,

    I totally agree – you really do need to ask for feedback and to listen.

    During the trials I conducted while creating my board game (and since using it commercially), I’ve found some of the best feedback is actually behaviour, and the things people do and say without realising it and without the spotlight on them. So if you have the benefit of seeing your customers it’s a good idea to observe them closely. Take it all in, the whole picture (including all the negative comments), so you can see how different personalties perceive your product.

    And yeah, showing the results is a brave move for sure! 🙂 I think you’re absolutely right that it adds to the “buzz”. It gets your attention doesn’t it! – and becomes a great talking point. They’ll probably earn a lot of respect, just from being so open.

    And I think that’s the takeaway point really – transparency, and willingness to be open gets people’s attention and respect.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Cheers, Danielle

  4. William Profet :: says

    Hi Danielle,

    You are absolutely right. The transparency and willingness to be open really get people’s attention and respect. I think that most of the potential customers are smart enough and we don’t need to play them tricks.

    Honesty and frankness are better strategies… And they work for a long term, not only for “hit-and-run” cases. 🙂

    Regards and good luck!

  5. Danielle says

    Well said Len. And I think the word “confident” is spot on. There’s something so appealing about a brand that is confident enough to be open (and the same is true of people)… they’re not trying to be seen as “better”, or to please everyone, they’re just saying “this is us”, and we’d like to play.

  6. Just to play devil’s advocate here, I think the real “hook” is not the “opening up to ‘real’ consumer’s opinions” of the product as much as it is about engaging the client and prospective customer. It’s very interesting to think of the exposure Pravda has gotten from consumer-reviewers telling their friends to log on and listen for their review and the buzz surrounding this “openness.”

    That’s the genious: engaging consumers. Pravda has created a relationship with these folks and their friends and family who also enjoy vodka. Now, there’s a bond.

    Some like the taste, some don’t. Some people love vodka, some don’t drink at all. And Pravda has opened a line of communication (and therefore begun a relationship). Again, that’s the branding wizardry behind this promotion – not the willingness to be critiqued.

  7. Danielle says

    Excellent point Shane, thank you. I guess you could say that “engaging consumers” was their desired outcome, and the “willingness to be open” was the tactic to enable it.

    I prefer wine to vodka myself, and being Friday night and all, I might just have one 🙂 – here’s cheers to a beaut campaign!

  8. nesh thompson says

    I think it is both brave and honest to open a company’s branding up to public scrutiny and more so to publicise the results. Most companies would, I think, agree with consulting with customers but not on that same level.

    However, I don’t think that in this case you can attribute an altruistic marketing intention for Pravda. As a viral marketing initiative, the brand can hardly be seriously dented by even a majority of negative feedback. The genius in the exercise is that the product is alcaholic, therefore, the drunker and more abusive the comment, the better. Ironically, this is an endorsement of the product in itself.

  9. Danielle says

    That’s exactly right Nesh, I don’t think it was altruistic at all. They were willing to be open purely because of the attention they knew they would get – but I think it’s worthy of respect in that it’s a bold move to display the results for public scrutiny.

    It’s my guess that they already knew the kind of responses they would get in advance. But it’s the ‘appearance’ of being open that’s appealing and attention getting.

  10. this is absolutely true that if you are promoting your business or product then feedback is compulsory to improve the services through door to door marketing you can get customers feedback on the spot this is one of the most effective truth about this service……..

  11. Feedback is very very important. Even when your company is growing it is important to maintain a connection with your client and see what they thought of the process. Feedback allows you to focus on things you are doing correctly and address areas where you can improve.

  12. You need to be able to take some harsh criticism if you want to make it. If you do not have anyone criticizing your work you need to find someone who will!