Absolut Vodka's just-launched global campaign offers new creative and media twists on its well-established strategy of linking the brand with art and contemporary culture.
The campaign, dubbed "Transform Today," is the first from Absolut's new creative agency, Sid Lee. It spans television, online advertising, social media, events and print.
The creative features four young artists who are, in Absolut's words, "daring spirits [with] a dedication to continuously transform the possibilities of personal expression."
Core message: Young adults can "break free from the idea that anything is predetermined and take control of their future," summed up Absolut VP of Global Marketing Jonas Tåhlin. "Absolut has always tapped into the transformative power of art, but...[with the new campaign], we’ll take a more active part in stimulating transformation and pushing the cultural scene forward,” including encouraging young adults to develop their own creative talents, he said.
The campaign targets urban Millennials who "connect with Absolut's creative DNA" and "believe that the future is not set in stone -- that they can create their own lives and help shape society," elaborates Maxime Kouchnir, VP vodkas for Pernod Ricard USA. (Global spirits company Pernod Ricard acquired Vin & Spirit, including the Absolut brand, in 2008.)
The four artists featured in the campaign are Woodkid (a French illustrator, designer, director and musician); Aaron Koblin (an American digital media artist); Yiqing Yin (a French emerging fashion designer); and Rafael Grampá (a Brazilian graphic novel artist).
The campaign's TV creative includes 90- and 60-second versions of a spot that features montages of all of the artists shown at work (and play). There are also 30-second spots devoted to each artist, Kouchnir tells Marketing Daily.
The television ads will air worldwide (and also be viewable online). The first ones launched on television on Sept. 9 in the U.S., Brazil and Germany. The ads will debut in other markets during the remainder of 2013 and next spring.
In the U.S., the ads are running on Millennial-friendly programming on NBC, ABC and cable channels including ESPN, Comedy Central, AMC and FX.
With Millennials' penchant for multi-screen engagement in mind, curious Shazam users can use the app to learn more about the music used in the TV ads and the artists. Those who do will be driven to the newly relaunched Absolut.com, which now features profiles and videos about the artists and their working processes and philosophies about transformation.
The videos are also viewable on Absolut's YouTube channel.
Starting in November, the artists will also host a challenge on Absolut.com that asks fans to submit creative projects that best represent how they would “transform today.”
The campaign's online advertising will appear on the sites relating to the creative disciplines in which the four artists work, including fashion, design and music, says Kouchnir. Leading magazine brands' sites are included in the mix.
On the social media front, the campaign will include outreach and engagement through the brand's own Facebook and Twitter accounts, and through vertical sites serving artistic communities (plus the four artists' engagement efforts through their own social media presences). Absolut will roll out various new pieces of content on social sites over the course of the campaign.
Absolut kicked off the campaign with "Open Canvas" events in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood and San Francisco. During the events, emerging artists and the public collaborated to turn city streets into "interactive outdoor exhibitions." Absolut employed social media to engage artistic communities to participate.
Magazine print ads are also an element of the campaign, although a relatively minor one, according to Kouchnir.
Absolut's famed "bottle ad campaign" -- which included ads featuring the work of Andy Warhol ("Absolut Warhol") and other famous contemporary artists, as well as a myriad of other takes on the "Absolut _____" theme, ran for 25 years after the brand was introduced in the U.S. in 1979.
Between 2007 and 2009, it ran its "In an Absolut World" campaign. That campaign featured fanciful scenarios depicting a better world -- one in which, for example, the blaring commercial billboards in Times Square are replaced by famous works of art.
Efforts since then have included two "Drinks" campaigns -- one featuring featuring Kate Beckinsale and Zooey Deschanel and other celebrities (2009-2001), and one based on the Absolut Greyhound cocktail, with a video featuring a song by Swedish House Mafia.
Last year it also ran an "Absolut Unique" campaign, during which the brand distributed nearly 4 million unique, individually designed bottles in 80 markets around the world, supported by print and digital ads and in-store and on-premises promotions.
The spirits trade press has suggested that given the competitive pressure from "cheap-chic” vodka brands in the U.S., Absolut's greatest growth prospects may lie in international markets.