Absolut Targets Users Looking to Wet Their Whistles

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Absolut, a division of V&S Vin & Spirit AB in Sweden, has developed a series of wireless ads targeted to consumers as they search for bars and restaurants.


Developed with TBWAChiatDay, the ads work with personal digital assistants and Web-enabled wireless phones that use Vindigo's software, which allows users to search for maps, directions and other information on shops, restaurants and nightspots in their area. Vindigo has 650,000 users in major U.S. cities and London.


TBWAChiatDay developed text facts delivered with certain searches. For example, when a Vindigo user searches for a Japanese restaurant, the silhouette of an Absolut bottle scrolls up from the bottom of the screen. Then a text message appears: "In Japan, a black cat crossing your path is good luck." When searching for an Italian restaurant, users are greeted with the message: "The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows." When searching for a seafood restaurant, the message "snails have teeth" appears.


"From Absolut and the agency's point of view, they wanted not just good ads, but they wanted to interact with customers close to the point of purchase," said Carrie Himelfarb, vice president of sales at Vindigo.


The facts are designed to be brief and interesting, said Doug Jaeger, interactive creative director for TBWAChiatDay, New York.


"We're not even saying, 'drink this.' We assume the value of the products," he said. "These are affluent, intelligent people we're talking to. They don't need a lot of hand-holding."


After the facts, dubbed "Absolut Insights," are displayed, users can tap on the screen to "obtain more Insights."


Delivering about 1.5 million impressions over the past few months, Vindigo said 3 percent to 6.5 percent of users "tapped through."


"The 5.5 [percent] or 6 percent tap-through rates we've been seeing is really high when compared to banners," Jaeger said.


The promotion started in July, with upward of 15 percent tap-throughs, then leveled off. It ends in December.


Though Vindigo has tracked tap-throughs, the focus was branding.


"Absolut has had a brand campaign going for 20 years ... a print campaign that has always had the same format and consistency," said Jeffrey Rossi, interactive media planner at TBWAChiatDay.


Interactivity with the brand in wireless and online ads introduced this summer is more important than getting users to click through, Rossi said.


"The essence of the interactive campaign is not to drive traffic to a destination Web site, but instead to bring compelling brand messaging out to the user in the media," he said. "Instead of having an ad say, 'click here,' and picking up the user and moving them, we [present] Absolut in a very relevant environment that they have already said they want to be in."


Vindigo and TBWAChiatDay executives do not yet know how effective the wireless ads have been in raising brand awareness, but Absolut will be among the marketers in a Vindigo brand-effectiveness study conducted in December by third-party research firm Frank N. Magid Associates, New York. The firm will survey Vindigo and non-Vindigo PDA users about brand awareness, recall rates and purchases made from wireless ads sponsored by specific marketers yet to be determined by Vindigo.


Next in the Absolut project, Vindigo will add direct response elements, including offering users the option to have Absolut-related events placed on their PDA calendars.


"It's about two to three lines of text reminding them about events sponsored by Absolut or a general happy hour reminder," Himelfarb said.


Himelfarb said the calendar offering, available toward the end of November, is double opt in: via a wireless ad served to those who have opted in for more Absolut information, users can opt in for the Absolut calendar information.


Vindigo also will start capturing e-mail addresses for Absolut by late November through the end of December. When users tap on a wireless ad, they will be asked whether they want to opt in for more Absolut information via e-mail.


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