Absolut Vodka maker replaces iconic ad campaign

It's an Absolut shift.

Absolut vodka is retiring the ad campaign that made it famous over 25 years, replacing it with a new global campaign that shows what things would be like "in an Absolut world."

Since 1981, Absolut has produced more than 1,500 print executions of its "bottle" campaign, which juxtaposes the product's punning moniker against a stylized image of the brand's distinctively shaped bottle. For example: "Absolut Texas" under an image of an oversized bottle, or "Absolut 19th" with a bottle made out of a golf green.
"It's probably the most iconic print campaign of the last quarter century. It is the textbook example of taking a strong idea and running with it and keeping it fresh," said Chris Staples, creative director at Rethink Communications in Vancouver. "I'm sad to see it go."
The decision to abandon the bottle campaign follows consumer research in Canada and eight other countries that found that while vodka drinkers admired the bottle campaign, it no longer provided them with enough opportunities to interact and get involved with the brand, said Nina Gillsvik, director of consumer marketing at Vin & Sprit AB, Sweden's state-run distillery.
"What we have seen is that the iconic bottle campaign - as amazing and fantastic as that campaign has been - needed to change," Ms. Gillsvik said. "Our consumers say they want interaction, they want to get inspired, they want to get involved."
She said the new campaign will illustrate life in an imagined Absolut world, where men could have babies, the moon would be a disco ball and there would be no global warming. One of the first executions to be rolled out will show an image of New York's Times Square, where the advertisements have been replaced with fine art.
"We've formed a picture of an Absolut world and we want the consumers to be invited to give their view of an Absolut world," Ms. Gillsvik said.
The new global campaign - only the second in the brand's history - comes a year after Absolut began experimenting with an intermediary campaign that ran only in the United States, its biggest market.
That campaign continued to play with the brand name, positioning it as "The Absolute Vodka." Meanwhile, the traditional bottle campaign has continued to run in Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Mid-market vodkas like Absolut have been losing share to brands in the higher-priced deluxe category. But Bengt Baron, chief executive officer of Vin & Sprit, told Reuters recently that the brand grew by 7 per cent, or 700,000 cases last year.
Ms. Gillsvik said the bottle campaign worked very well in print, but was less relevant in the evolving media landscape. The new campaign will incorporate various media elements, including print, television, Internet, mobile marketing and guerrilla activities.
"The media landscape has changed so much. Only 10 years ago, we could reach all of our consumers through print. That is not really possible today. You need to talk to them in an entirely new way. And that demands that we change the advertising so it fits," she said.
The new campaign - developed by ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day and online agency Great Works AB - launches in Germany and the U.S. over the next few weeks. It will make its debut in Canada in the fall and will be rolled out in 12 other Absolut markets later this year.
The Swedish government is preparing to sell Vin & Sprit, and several of the world's largest spirits companies have indicated an interest, including Bacardi Ltd., Diageo PLC, Pernod Ricard SA and Fortune Brands Inc. Absolut is the world's second best-selling vodka after Diageo's Smirnoff brand.
After 25 years and 1,500 ads, Absolut Vodka is abandoning its iconic "bottle" campaign.
Out with the old
The long-running ad series, right, juxtaposed stylized images of the brand's bottle with short headlines using the phrase: "Absolut "
In with the new
The new global campaign, above, shows what life would be like in an imagined Absolut world, where Times Square would have art instead of advertising and men could have babies.

Friday, April 27, 2007

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