Absolut debuts first Sid Lee brand campaign

Absolut continues its long tradition of working with artists for its "Transform Today" platform

Absolut vodka has undergone a transformation.

After more than 25 years with TBWA as its agency of record, the liquor brand enlisted Sid Lee to drive its global creative last December.

It released the first significant wave of creative from the agency on Monday, along with a new global rallying cry for the brand: Transform Today.

The new tagline – or “brand ethos,” as Sid Lee describes it – is the guiding force behind Absolut’s brand campaign, launched Monday in the U.S., Brazil and Germany, which showcases four artists making “transformative works.”

The spot, set to debut in Canada in October, follows Woodkid, a director and musician; Aaron Koblin, a Google employee who moonlights as a digital artist; Yiqing Yin, a young Parisian couturier; and Rafael Grampá, a Brazilian graphic novel artist, as they create four distinctly different works.

The initiative follows Absolut’s long tradition of working with artists, which dates back to Andy Warhol’s well-known print ads for the brand in the 1980s. More recently the brand has worked with the likes of Damien Hirst and the Canadian artist Justin Broadbent.

Eric Alper, managing partner at Sid Lee Toronto, who led the development of the campaign from the agency’s Amsterdam office, explained Absolut was looking to take a more modern approach to art partnerships in hopes of connecting with millennials who didn’t grow up with a Warhol Absolut poster on the wall of their dorm room, as their parents might have.

Alper said the new brand platform is about Absolut becoming an “agent of transformation” between consumers’ regular selves and their “extraordinary selves.”

“I don’t mean that in the altering sense of vodka,” Alper laughs. “Absolut always shows an extraordinary side of the world, through the lens of art. We’re trying to bring that to life in a way that’s relevant to millennials.”

It has done this, Alper said, by selecting from a pool of more than 500 artists who aren’t well known, but have the potential to become household names. For young people who are still developing their own careers and identities, this approach is more relatable and more authentic than working with established art stars, he said.

The campaign features executions across media, from an extensive out-of-home campaign to print work, both 30- and 60-second spots and four-minute videos detailing the backstory of each artist.

Each of the videos can be found on the refreshed Absolut.com, along with several multimedia experiences related to the campaign, and will be distributed through a YouTube buy and partnerships with several publishers that Absolut plans to announce in the next few weeks.

The global media strategy was led by Vizeum, with assistance from Absolut’s media partners in each market, including Vizeum Canada locally.

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