Absolut taps Canadian artist for summer promo
July 15, 2009 | Russ Martin | Comments
Absolut Vodka has a secret.
The brand is hosting a party as part of its summer promotions, but is keeping the location, time and date under wraps until the last minute. Until then, it will be dropping hints on Twitter and remaining otherwise tight-lipped.
There is one detail the brand will disclose: Justin Broadbent, a Toronto-based artist, is conceptualizing the event. Broadbent, a multi-disciplinary artist who created the branding and web design for the Oscar-nominated short I Met The Walrus, has been commissioned by Absolut to transform a secret “unconventional” space into an all-day art exhibit that turns into a party at night.
To do this, Broadbent can use any form of art, so long as it embodies the idea that, “In an Absolut world, opportunities pop up,” the tag line the brand is using in its summer marketing.
Though the brand has collaborated with more than 300 artists around the world, this is the first time it has commissioned an artist in Canada. In the past, Absolut has worked with the likes of Andy Warhol, Lenny Kravitz and Roberto Cavalli.
“The Absolut brand has been built on a foundation of creativity,” said Kelly Kretz, brand manager for Absolut in Canada. “We wanted to continue that creative heritage in Canada, but make it relevant to Canadians.”
According to Kretz, Broadbent is exactly the type of artist its Canadian customers might like. As with most alcohol brands, Absolut targets young consumers, but Kretz said the brand’s demographic isn’t the typical college crowd. Instead, Absolut tries to appeal to young consumers transitioning towards premium products, and who are looking to differentiate their tastes.
By commissioning a cutting-edge artist, the brand is hoping to appeal to the young, smart and hip. “We feel [Broadbent] will resonate with that audience,” Kretz said. “He doesn’t follow the crowd. He’s very bold, and that’s what we love about him.”
Absolut’s summer campaign started in May, with a retail promotion. The brand packaged its 750ml bottles in a carrying case that functions as a portable bar, with space for ice and garnishes. After announcing the summer party, Absolut launched a contest to win two round-trip tickets to the event, five-star accommodations and VIP treatment.
Instead of orchestrating a mainstream TV or print campaign, Absolut decided to use social media to promote the pop-up party. The brand had Broadbent put up a blog chronicling the project on his own site, and started to spread the word about Absolut’s party with Twitter and Facebook pages. PR firm Harbinger also reached out to local bloggers and club promoters to get its demographic talking about the party, and the brand.
While traditional marketing allows brands to communicate directly with consumers, Kretz said social media instead provides a platform for consumers to talk to each other about brands. If brands infiltrate social networks with relevant information, Kretz said consumers will then spread the messaging. “You can’t go out there and tell this demographic what to do and what is cool,” she said. “If they think information is relevant, they’re going to talk about it and they’re going to Tweet about it.”