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The Absolut Vodka advertising campaign has been running non-stop since 1981. It’s been over 20 years, which in advertising, is practically forever. Industry insiders hail it as one of the most successful campaigns in the history of advertising.
It is rarely that one comes across ads which cut on the copy to focus on the visual appeal. Absolut Vodka is one such campaign. The star of the ads is always the beautiful, artful, chameleon-like bottle from Sweden. It’s brilliant because it focuses on the visual to convey the message.
The Absolut ads are celebrated as much for their ingenuity as their longevity. They are full of wit, artistry, and imagination as they deftly communicate the brand’s values, often containing little challenges to the reader to interpret just what’s happening inside the ad.
The advertising campaign has won many awards, including charter membership in the American Marketing Association’s Marketing Hall of Fame. It was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 along with just two other brands: Coca Cola and Nike. The advertising campaign was conceived by TBWA Advertising.
In the ensuing report, I am going to analyze the print ads for this brand and the role it played in shaping the destiny of ABSOLUT. I will attempt to uncover the intriguing usage of symbols and signs used to convey the message of the brand. There are a variety of themes that the agency worked on e.g. Product, Objects, Cities, Art, Holidays etc.
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While taking a look at the communication messages and making meaning of it, it was necessary to delve into the past of the brand (before the whole ad campaign was planned). The reason we’re doing this is to trace how the layers kept adding up to the brand imagery. • • • • • • • • • •
Absolut Vodka is a Swedish brand of vodka, produced near Åhus, Scania, in southern Sweden Although, it was an unrefined product, it nonetheless contained some of the world’s finest raw ingredients: pure Swedish water and rich Swedish wheat Lars Olsson Smith called the product Absolut rent branvin, Swedish for “Absolut pure vodka” Earlier in 1970, the Swedish government had taken control of the production and distribution of the beverage alcohol industry, including Absolut By the late 1970’s, it was clear that if the distillery was to survive, Abosult would have to become an export product The brand owners in Stockholm, Vin & Spirit, knew what market they had to tap- America In the 1970s America accounted for 60% of the vodka consumed in the free world However,99% of the vodka consumed in America was produced in America and most of it was very inexpensive Conventional wisdom held that “all vodkas are alike,” due to the relative ease of production, the few ingredients necessary, and the fact that no aging is required, as with Scotch and other whiskeys Also, because most consumers combined their vodka with orange juice, tomato juice, tonic or any number of other mixers they didn’t much care about the underlying quality of the vodka: the cheaper the better
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The remaining 1% imported vodka market in America was dominated by Stolichnaya, the Russian vodka Stolichnaya was imported since 1968 by a subsidiary of the Pepsi-Cola company as payment, in lieu of hard currency for the Pepsi sold in the Soviet Union Created specifically for export, it was good vodka, some of Russia’s finest, and the only Russian vodka “officially” exported to America Being Russian, Stoli possessed a seamless authenticity for many Americans: from the czars to the revolution to the summit meetings, vodka and Russia have long been synonymous in consumers’ minds Most of the vodkas made in America even have Russian sounding names: Smirnoff, Romanoff ,Georgi By 1978, Vin & Sprit was ready to test the waters. It sent a delegation to the United States The next move was to find a distributor in the US. They met reception colder than a...
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