FROM THE FINE ART OF ADVERTISING TO THE ADVERTISING OF FINE ART
Creativity is that simple surprise and delight of seeing familiar things in a new way. From the very beginning, when Absolut Vodka was first exported, we decided to be different – to surprise and delight. Absolut Vodka created a whole new type of advertising that stretched the boundaries between advertising and art.
The ads are all witty variations on the same simple theme: a picture of the Absolut Vodka bottle with a two to three word caption starting with the word Absolut and often saying something complimentary about the product or its consumer. A flash of recognition comes as you make the unlikely connection. The first ad, “Absolut Perfection” appeared in 1980 and had a distinctive wit that redefined alcohol advertising.
THE CONFESSIONS OF AN ADMAN
Adman Geoff Hayes of the TBWA ad agency in New York was asked to come up with a campaign for Absolut Vodka. The Stockholm team had taken great care to outline a campaignfor the new product based on very specific guidelines – all advertising should center around the bottle, the product should not be identified with any particular lifestyle and the approach should have a timeless yet contemporary feel to it. Thousands of miles away, Hayes took these ideas one step further. The story goes that the idea for ”Absolut Perfection” and the Absolut Vodka campaign came to him in the bath. At that moment, in a New York bathtub, 400 years of Swedish tradition become a modern phenomenon.
In addition to its unique advertising, Absolut Vodka also has PR that gets people talking and the brand noticed. In the far north of Sweden, for example, there is a hotel built entirely of ice. In its bar there is a 5 meter (15 ft.) high ice sculpture of the Absolut Vodka bottle. The hotel and the bottle have been featured on dozens of TV programs around the world. Absolut Vodka also publishes a highly-acclaimed magazine distributed in 110 countries around the world.
Absolut Vodka was a hit with the public from the very beginning. Today, it’s a media sensation. People talk about Absolut Vodka ads the way you would talk about the latest movie or novel; the creativity of our advertising regularly makes the evening news. Absolut Vodka gets coverage in every medium. It gets thousands of articles and countless sound bites of free exposure on TV. Always fond of stretching borders, Absolut Vodka regularly re-defines the word event. When Absolut Vodka is involved in an event, the borders between art, fashion, PR and marketing blur long before the first drink is poured.
For example, when Absolut Vodka commissioned Helmut Newton to photograph Absolut fashion creations, the photographs were presented at exhibitions from Madrid to New York to Berlin – all attended by the world elite of the fashion and art world. Even the simplest bar promotion takes on a special Absolut twist. Instead of handing out a T-shirt with every drink, Absolut will typically commission a local artist to paint a limited number of Absolut Vodka T- shirts to be raffled off at the end of the night.
The magazine ads have become collectors items. Many people have taken to wallpapering their rooms with them. Every year, Absolut’s PR and advertising agencies get and respond to thousands of requests for advertising reprints. For a number of years, Absolut Vodka has created sensational Christmas ads, ads so unusual that they almost always make news – a talking Christmas card, a real working snow globe magazine insert, a designer handkerchief, even designer gloves by Donna Karan. In 1992, Absolut Vodka gave away a trendy pair of designer nylons in the holiday issue of Vogue. The same year, a Christmas tree imported from Sweden and cut to the shape of the Absolut Vodka bottle, was seen in London‘s Covent Garden. Absolut Vodka often makes custom ads to suit particular magazines. “Absolut Centerfold” appeared as a fold-out in Playboy. The bottle was stripped naked of its lettering and was featured bunny style complete with measurements and interests. “Absolut Index” was a tribute to the US magazine Harper’sfamous “Index”. Also in vogue: a tailor- made Absolut Fashion campaign in Vogue magazine by legendary photographer Helmut Newton.