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‘Zelensky Vodka’ project fails

The company that launched the product, aimed at raising funds for Ukraine, has gone bust

The project that launched a vodka named after Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky has failed, Russian news outlet Octagon has reported. The Swiss-based startup aimed to raise funds for Kiev, but sales in Europe and the US proved disappointing.

Authorities in Switzerland decided last September to dissolve the company operating the Zelensky Vodka brand, according to an entry in the commercial register of the Canton of Zug. DrinkForPeace AG is to be liquidated in accordance with the provisions on bankruptcy, the entry states.

Octagon reported that DrinkForPeace had reached an agreement with authorities to suspend the dissolution process as it tries to sell leftover stock.

The brand was launched in March 2022, shortly after years-long Russia-Ukraine tensions turned to military confrontation, by Swiss entrepreneur Tobias Reichmuth and Ukrainian fashion designer Anastasiia Rosinina. Among the founders were Swiss manager Georgia von Gleichen and Swiss start-up entrepreneur Matthias Zwingel.

The bottle of Zelensky vodka featured a silhouette of Ukraine’s president in front of the country’s blue and yellow flag, along with the slogan ‘Help Ukraine’ and hashtag “drink for peace.” The beverage was said to be of premium wheat-based quality, made and distilled in Germany and Switzerland.

#drinkforpeace 😬 pic.twitter.com/U8kQnWJ5Y0

— Oleg Ivanov (@oleg_trasher) November 2, 2022

The founders pledged to transfer all profits to Ukraine until 2026. They also promised to send another €5 per bottle towards selected non-governmental organizations in the country. The recommended price for a 0.7 litre bottle was set at €29.90 (just over $32).

Octagon said the company had tried to promote sales of the vodka in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the UK, and the US. As of August 2022, 55,000 bottles had been sold in five countries, a far cry from the million-bottle target set for the year at its UK launch.

The founders lamented that promotions in the US didn’t get as much support as they’d hoped, and admitted that they struggled to cover costs, the outlet writes, citing a post from von Gleichen on the LinkedIn social network.

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The company reportedly made a three-tranche payment to a foundation that restores damaged buildings in Ukraine and transferred about $37,000 to a children’s hospital in Kiev. However, according to Octagon, the foundation in question is in fact engaged in helping the Ukrainian army, supplying equipment for drones, among other things.

The vodka is still available for sale in European liquor stores, with prices varying between €18 (about $20) and €40 per bottle. According to Octagon, the DrinkForPeace founders have abandoned the project to pursue other goals.


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