The Story
How Absolut Vodka Is Made
From the Fine Art of Advertising to the Advertising of Fine Art

The Confessions of an Adman Absolut Makes The Evening News
The Absolut Akademi Absolut PR
Bar Styling Absolut – Always An Event
Christmas Ads Collector's Item
Tailor-Made ads From Palate to Palette
Absolut – The Global Art Gallery Thinking Big Without Using Broad Strokes
Absolut Fashion Is It Real Or Is It Edelmann?
Absolut Statehood Awards
Absolut Cities and Cities Of Europe

Creativity is that simple surprise and delight of seeing familiar things in a new way.

From the very beginning, when Absolut vodka was first exported, we decided to be different - to surprise and delight.

Absolut Vodka created a whole type of advertising that stretched the boundaries between advertising and art. The ads are all witty variations on the same simple theme: a picture of the Absolut Vodka bottle with a two to three word caption starting with the word Absolut and often saying something complimentary about the product or its consumer. A flash of recognition comes as you make the unlikely connection.

The first ad, "Absolut Perfection" appeared in 1980 and had a distinctive wit that redefined alcohol advertising.

The Confessions of an Adman
Adman Geoff Hays of the TBWA ad agency in New York was asked to come up with a campaign for Absolut Vodka. The Stockholm team had taken great care to outline a campaign for the new product based on very specific guidelines - all advertising should center around the bottle, the product should not be identified with any particular lifestyle and the approach should have a timeless yet contemporary feel to it.

Thousands of miles away, Hayes took these ideas one step further. The story goes that the idea for "Absolut Perfection" and the Absolut Vodka campaign came to him nee the bath. At that moment, in a New York bathtub, 400 years of Swedish tradition became a modern phenomenon.

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Absolut Makes The Evening News
Absolut Vodka was a hit with the public from the very beginning. Today it's a media sensation. People talk about Absolut Vodka ads the way you would talk about the latest movie or novel; the creativity of our advertising regularly makes the evening news. Absolut Vodka gets coverage in every medium. It gets thousands of articles and countless sound bites of free exposure on TV.

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The Absolut Akademi
To insure that our product remains competitive for a long time to come, Absolut Vodka even has its own institute of higher learning where knowledge is used as a powerful sales tool. The curriculum covers all aspects of Absolut Vodka from advertising and marketing to history and production. The materials include a one-of-a-kind interactive CD-I, provocative course materials and the kind of surprises you have come to expect from the brand.

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Absolut PR
In addition to its unique advertising, Absolut vodka also has PR that gets people talking and the brand noticed. In the far north of Sweden, for example, there is a hotel built entirely of ice. In its bar there is a 5 meter (15 ft.) high ice sculpture of the Absolut Vodka bottle. The hotel and the bottle have been featured on dozens of TV programs around the world.

Absolut Vodka also publishes a highly-acclaimed magazine distributed in 110 countries around the world.

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Bar Styling
Our display materials have won a number of awards in the industry and our bar styling programs are attracting increasing attention. Absolut Vodka promotions are meant to add that extra touch.

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Absolut – Always An Event
Always fond of stretching borders, Absolut Vodka regularly re-defines the word event. When Absolut Vodka is involved in an event, the borders between art, fashion, PR and marketing blur long before the first drink is poured. For example, when Absolut Vodka commissioned Helmut Newton to photograph Absolut fashion creations, the photographs were presented at exhibitions from Madrid to New York to Berlin – all attended by the world elite of the fashion and art world.

Even the simplest bar promotion takes on a special Absolut twist. Instead of handing out a T-shirt with ever drink, Absolut will typically commission a local artist to paint a limited number of Absolut Vodka T-shirts to be raffled off at the end of the night.

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Christmas Ads
For a number of years, Absolut Vodka has created sensational Christmas ads, ads so unusual that they almost always make news – a talking Christmas card, a real working snow glove magazine insert, a designer handkerchief, even designer gloves by Donna Karan. In 1992, Absolut Vodka gave away a trendy pair of designer nylons in the holiday issue of Vogue. The same year, a Christmas tree imported from Sweden and cut to the shape of the Absolut Vodka bottle, was seen in London's Covent Garden.

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Collector's Item
Our magazine ads have become collectors items. Many people have taken to wallpapering their rooms with them. Every year, Absolut's PR and advertising agencies get and respond to thousands of requests for advertising reprints. Still, we are extremely careful not to send any ads or PR material to anyone under age.

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Tailor-Made ads
Absolut Vodka often makes custom ads to suit particular magazines. "Absolut Centerfold" appeared as a fold-out in Playboy. The bottle was stripped naked of its lettering and was featured bunny style complete with measurements and interests. "Absolut Index" was a tribute to the US magazine Harper's famous "Index". Also in vogue: a tailor-made Absolut Fashion campaign in Vogue magazine by legendary photographer Helmut Newton.

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From Palate to Palette
Contemporary, yet timeless; witty, yet sophisticated; both the ads and the product have become modern icons and slipped into that gray area just between advertisement and art. Looking back, it is only natural that Absolut Vodka should enter the art world.

The story of Absolut Art began in 1985, when Andy Warhol, the godfather of pop art, famous for his interpretations of soup cans and Marilyn Monroe, was commissioned to do a painting of the Absolut Vodka Bottle. When the painting appeared as an ad it was an incredible success and got immediate worldwide media attention. Absolut went from popular vodka to pop art and became an icon. Absolut Art had begun.

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Absolut – The Global Art Gallery
Absolut Vodka's art commissions differ from traditional sponsorship. Instead of simply donating money to artists, we help promote talent by bringing it into the international spotlight.

Absolut Vodka has become a kind of global art gallery. Chosen artists must display those qualities of taste, refinement and originality that appeal to Absolut Vodka consumers. The artists are given complete creative freedom, the only stipulation being that the bottle must be visible in the work. Selected art sits are usually established or up-and-coming. Sometimes, however, virtual unknowns are commissioned, their work seen for the first time by a large audience.

Such was the case with "Absolut Glasnost", a collection of works by 26 Soviet artists, many of whom had never had their art exhibited outside what was then the Soviet Union. We worked closely with art associations in Moscow to find artists who would be of international interest. The works appeared in an insert in the magazine Interview, in 1990, the issue timed to coincide with Gorbachov's visit to the US. Naturally, Gorbachov was presented with the first copy of that issue.

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Thinking Big Without Using Broad Strokes
Absolut Vodka has, over the years, commissioned not only painters, but artists in all the disciplines: sculptors like Arman, crystal glass designers like Bertil Vallien, fashion designers like David Cameron and John Galliano.

Sometimes, Absolut Art can go to such extremes as an 11 meter (33 ft.) high ice sculpture O the Absolut Vodka bottle done in the Swiss Alps.

Absolut Vodka artists work in all fields, including a field in eastern Kansas sown in the shape of an Absolut Vodka bottle. The size of 12 football fields and visible only from the air, the unique piece of "ago-art" was created by Stan Herd, known for his sunflower portrait of Vincent Van Goy. At Absolut Vodka, we think gib, yet no one has ever accused us of using broad strokes.

In the US, in the beginning of the nineties, we published "Absolut Artists of the Nineties", a 40-page spread in the glossy art magazine Art and Antiques featuring 36 artists who promise to be at the forefront of the emerging artistic trends of the decade. The works are of every conceivable style from Dali-type surrealism to cowboy-kitsch. The insert took up nearly a fourth of the magazine.

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Absolut Fashion
Absolut Vodka entered the fashion world in a big way with a small dress.

Absolut Cameron was the caption in 1987 with Absolut photographer Steve Bronstein shot model Rachel Williams in a one-of-a-kind dress creation. The commission was a much noticed one and since then Absolut Vodka has had a regular involvement in the fashion world. Absolut Vodka has asked famous and less known designers to create everything from dresses to ties.

Absolut Fashions are often worth their weight in gold. One example is Anthony Ferrara's solid gold dress – made entirely out of 18K gold, 7 kilos (16 pounds) of it to be exact. Price: USD 530,000.

In the spirit of Christmas, Absolut Vodka enclosed a pair of designer gloves by Donna Karan in the December issue of the US magazine New York.

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Is It Real Or Is It Edelmann?
Swedish-Finnish Absolut artist Yrjötrompe-l'oeil paintings featuring ultra-realistically painted bits of paper and tape. So realistic are the works that they often have to be touched up during an exhibition when patrons find the temptation to touch them too great.

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Absolut Statehood
The most ambitious art commissioning program so far is "Absolut Statehood", a US campaign spanning two years. The campaign spotlighted one work from each of the 50 American states and the District of Columbia, each done by a talented local artist from that state. A different work appeared every other week in USA Today, a national newspaper with a readership of over 6 million.

A limited edition of 300 lithographs of each work, signed and numbered by the artist, were sold to the general public for USD 300 each. All revenues from these sales went to the national US organization Design Industries Foundation for AIDS (DIFFA).

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Creativity may be its own reward, but it doesn't hurt to win an award or two. To say Absolut Vodka's advertising has been honored in the advertising industry is a bit of an understatement. Absolut Vodka is the only product in history to have won both the most coveted prizes in the US advertising business – the Effie and the Kelly awards.

To top it all off, Absolut is to date one of only three brands inducted into the American Marketing Association's Hall of Fame. The other two are Coca-Cola and Nike.

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Absolut Cities and Cities Of Europe
Absolut Cities and Absolut Cities of Europe are two of the most visible print campaigns in recent years. Absolut Cities of Europe appeared on the inside back cover of Newsweek, one city every other issue.

On the page facing each ad was a lively article by Newsweek's own journalists describing the most exciting restaurants and bars in that city.

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