Absolut Mixes More Art, Flavors

Sweden's V&S Absolut Spirits will use the Internet for the Swedish, Canadian and U.S. debut of Absolut Raspberri, its latest flavored premium vodka.

The Stockholm-based liquor maker continues its longstanding link with the art world through a microsite at www.absolut.com/raspberri. Print ads, cable television spots and interactive banners break later this month, targeting those ages 21-35.

“We're trying to tell people about the product, and we're also trying to get the user to interact with Absolut's heritage of art,” said Patrik Persson, Internet communications manager at Absolut.

Absolut.com/raspberri features works by artists Maya Hayuk and Kenji Hirata. A hidden map on the microsite takes visitors backstage where they can “unleash the raspberry” by spray painting and creating their own work of art online.

Once backstage, visitors are greeted by Hayuk's or Hirata's canvas. They can virtually tag the art with nearby spray-paint bottles using various colors. Clicking on a nearby toolbox lets visitors redesign the artwork by moving, rotating and resizing the image elements around the Absolut Raspberri bottle.

They also can use a lighting panel to the left of the backstage to change the artwork's lighting for delivering an appropriate mood to the redesigned piece. The finished artwork is seen on the microsite's home page. This revolves every 10 seconds. Visitors also can e-mail their creation.

The online experience is in line with Absolut Raspberri's “Unleashed” theme.

Hirata's, Hayuk's and Phil Frost's artwork also will be incorporated in print ads in Inc., Sports Illustrated, Us Weekly and Cargo; cable TV spots on VH1, USA and FX; and banner ads debuting this week. The banners, on sites of Wired, Rolling Stone and Yahoo Launch, will have the same look and feel of the Absolut site.

Ad agencies Springtime, Stockholm, and Daddy, Gothenburg, Sweden, were responsible for creating the microsite. TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, handles print, TV and online ads.

Absolut turned 25 in April, as the first order for Absolut Vodka was placed in the United States in 1979. That order was for 700 cases, and the first bottle was sold in Boston. Absolut Vodka is Sweden's largest export in the food and beverage category. Last year, 72.5 million liters of Absolut Vodka were shipped to 126 markets worldwide. More than 1 billion bottles have left the company's plant in Ahus, Sweden, since 1979.

From its inception, Absolut marketed its vodka using the bottle as art. Its first ad, called Absolut Perfection, ran in 1980 and remains the basis for all company advertising, including street art. Absolut has collaborated with artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Damien Hirst as well as fashion designers Jean-Paul Gaultier, Gianni Versace and David Cameron.

Absolut Vodka in 1993 was one of three original brands inducted into the American Advertising Hall of Fame.

Absolut's portfolio comprises Absolut Vodka, Absolut Peppar, Absolut Citron, Absolut Kurant, Absolut Mandrin and Absolut Vanilia. Other launches this year include Level, a super-premium vodka introduced in March, and Absolut Cut, a pre-mixed drink launched a month later in Canada.

Company research and sales indicate the flavored vodka segment has grown in volume and importance since Absolut Citron's debut in 1988. It helps that each Absolut flavor is named using a play on words. Absolut Raspberri, for instance, is designed to give an edge to the raspberry name.

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