Stoli getting 'Real' with Logo, LGBT

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NEW YORK -- Stoli Vodka has partnered with Carat Entertainment to produce a five-part series on the real-life experiences of gay Americans titled "Stolichnaya Presents Be Real" that will air commercial-free on MTV Networks' Logo.

Stoli described the program as the "first-of-its-kind commercial-free television series." Such other shows as Fox's "24" and FX's "The Shield" have run commercial-free episodes sponsored by advertisers, but airing an entire series commercial-free is rare.

The series will portray the experiences of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community through different passages of life -- from the perspective of two different people in each episode.

"The stories of LGBT people are as remarkable as they are diverse," Logo senior vp and GM Lisa Sherman said. "This unique partnership with Stoli creates yet another platform to explore the extraordinary experiences of LGBT people across America."

While Stoli will not be integrated into the show, it will bookend the series with traditional 30-second spots and Stoli logos will appear at the opening and closing of each episode.

Stoli will support the series through online user-generated content and cross-promotions at select bars, hotels and restaurants across the U.S. as well as the "Stoli Hotel," a live brand experience that will travel from city to city after its Los Angeles launch. A national advertising campaign will invite consumers to submit stories about people who "stay real to themselves and the LGBT community." Stoli also will present screenings of the series at select gay and lesbian film festivals.

Stoli senior brand manager Adam Rosen said the series will help Stoli "break through the clutter" and deliver its brand message in a "culturally relevant way" to the LGBT community.

"What we value more than anything else is authenticity and the idea of being genuine," Rosen said. "When you live your life as a gay man or woman, you are constantly making a conscious choice to stay true to yourself. That action is the exact representation of what the Stoli brand is all about. Targeting this community is a perfect fit with our brand message."

Rosen said the series, along with Stoli's financial contributions to the LGBT and AIDS-related charities, will help the brand demonstrate its long-term commitment to the LGBT community. "To us this series is a statement that Stoli Vodka is making an effort to be relevant and partner with the LGBT community so that we can create a long-term relationship so when the community looks to support a brand they will support Stoli."

To date, Stoli's partnership with Logo for the series represents the largest investment in the LGBT audience by the brand and its parent company Pernod Ricard USA.

The series will air Mondays beginning May 14. It will include profiles such as the story of Calvin, who almost commits suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge but turns his life around and becomes a major activist in the San Francisco community after coming out; Christine, a lesbian diagnosed with breast cancer who fights back after having a double mastectomy and starts a company that takes photographs of cancer survivors; and Angelica, a transgender person who meets her half-sister for the first time after not talking to anyone in her family for 10 years.
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