Marketing Management

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CASE: 1 Absolut Vodka: creating advertising history

The Absolut advertising campaign was often regarded by advertising experts as one of the most brilliant, innovative, successful and long-running campaigns ever. The several prestigious awards that the campaign has won since its first ad was launched stand as testimony to this fact (See Table) for details of some of the awards).

Table: A brief list of awards won by Absolut advertisements Year | Award(s) |
1989 | The Kelly Grand Prize for the ad 'Absolutla' | 1990 | Grand EFFIE Award for Absolut advertising campaign | 1991 | The Kelly Grand Prize for the ad 'Absolut Glasnost' | 1992 | Award of Excellence' for animation on the Internet by the communication Arts magazine | 1993 | Absolut Advertising Campaign introduced in the 'Hall of Fame' by the American Marketing Association | 2000 | Four Cresta Awards for international Advertising for the ads 'Absolut Accessory', 'Absolut Auckland', 'Absolut Voyeur' and 'Absolut Space' from Creative Standards International and the International Advertising Association | 2002 | Insight Award for Best online advertising |

2003 | EFFIE Gold Award for sustained success of the Absolut advertising campaign |

‘Absolut adventure’: the making of a legend

In early 1979, Absolut vodka launched in the USA at the liquor trade convention held at Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans. Initially, the company concentrated its marketing efforts in and around New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston because these were the places where new trends were created, media attention was intense and the bar culture prevailed. V&S had sold around 25,000 cases of Absolut vodka when advertising agency TBWA took over its ad account in late 1979. Two at TBWA, Graham Turner and Geoff Hayes, were assigned the job of creating the ads for the ‘still not so popular Swedish vodka’. The duo began by getting familiar with the product’s taste and conducting extensive research on different liquor ads of the previous 10 years. They found that most ads were pretentious and pompous, featuring people dressed in expensive attire and living lavish lifestyles with a small liquor bottle tucked in some corner. Moreover, none of the ads was targeted at people below 40. After extensive research and effort, the admen came up with three different advertisement samples. The first featured a Russian soldier looking through a pair of binoculars with each lens reflecting the Absolut vodka bottle, accompanied by a slogan that read ‘Here’s something that Russians would really love to put behind bars.’ This ad was aimed at challenging the Russian vodka brand Stolichnaya. The second ad featured some of the favourite pastimes of Swedes, with a picture of the bottle; the slogan read ‘There’s nothing the Swedes enjoy more when it’s cold.’ The third ad featured only the Absolut vodka bottle with a halo over it, with a two-word slogan: ‘Absolut Perfection’ (a modified version of one of the ads created at NW Ayer). This ad was designed with the intention of humorously portraying as pure and natural. The admen had come up with a dozen designs, which depicted the bottle in different ways accompanied by a two-word slogan. It was one of the simplest themes anyone associated with Absolut had created up until then. The ads featured the Absolut bottle, a description of the product and the two-word slogan with one word describing the theme and the other the brand name itself. In early 1980, V&S launched the first advertisement, ‘Absolut Perfection’, along these lines. Since then, the bottle has been retained as the centerpiece for every advertisement of Absolut vodka accompanied by a two-word slogan. All Absolut ads were published in popular American newspapers and magazines like Newsweek, Time, New York, Los Angeles, New Yorker, New York Times, Interview and GQ. Carillon decided to continue using the same...
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