"The King of Vodka," by Linda Himelstein

05/15/2009 | Wall Street Journal, The

Drinking vodka may have been "Russia's great pastime" during the 19th century, but it took Pyotr Smirnov's marketing savvy to turn it into big business, Linda Himelstein argues in her new biography of the king of vodka salesmen. At a time when marketing barely existed in Russia, Smirnov pioneered word-of-mouth advertising and prestige marketing pushes. A reviewer notes that the book isn't just a fascinating history of the man, but of the early business tactics he helped pioneer.

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