- Pernod Ricard-owned brand Absolut kicked off a multichannel campaign to promote responsible social interactions by encouraging people to communicate their boundaries, per a press release.
- The "Drink Responsibly. #MixResponsibly" campaign, which launched earlier this month, features a limited-edition merchandise collection available through a third-party site, as well as a 15-second TV spot and digital and social content.
- Over half (56%) of U.S. adults have not expressed to friends their social distance expectations, per a June 2021 KRC Research survey commissioned by the brand. The fourth installment of Absolut's responsibility-focused series sees the brand taking a cautious approach toward marketing as society reopens.
The #MixResponsibly campaign's central message is a play on the word "mix," alluding to Absolut's role as a cocktail ingredient and mixing as a method of social interaction. People have different preferences regarding social interactions, as shown by the survey, and Absolut seeks to empower people to express those preferences as a way to reconcile any discrepancies. A 15-second TV spot depicts different lifestyles coexisting, while a narrator speaks to the validity of both. The campaign encourages people to communicate their physical and emotional boundaries, Pam Forbus, senior vice president and CMO for Pernod Ricard North America, said in the press release.
"Before the pandemic, people were uncomfortable establishing and expressing boundaries with both those closest to them and strangers alike," Forbus said. "The last year and a half changed that, having forced people to draw lines in the sand, figuratively and literally."
The campaign uses fresh research on consumer sentiments to address a culturally relevant issue and points to how brands are using marketing messages to help consumers navigate enduring uncertainties around returning to socializing. According to the KRC Research survey, U.S. adults display conflicts between behavior and expectations regarding social distancing. For example, half of respondents plan to go on in-person dates this summer, but among this group, nearly half (47%) are not planning to talk about their social distancing preferences ahead of time. The lack of communication underlying this disparity is what Absolut is seeking to address.
Other findings that suggest the possibility for social discomfort this summer include a majority of U.S. adults not being willing to change their plans based on their friends' expectations or behaviors around social distancing (62%) and mask use (61%), even when those social expectations are discussed. The survey found that 94% of U.S. adults are still practicing social distancing in some form, with 62% doing so "always" or "often."
By employing limited-edition merchandise, Absolut is hoping to drive consumer engagement. T-shirts, tank tops and bucket hats are branded with cheeky Absolut Summer Comeback Statements, which were designed by dating expert Serena Kerrigan and actress Michaela Jae Rodriguez, who could help shill the collection by attracting their respective fan bases. The merch collection is also part of Absolut's donation to LGBTQ-advocacy group GLAAD. Selling quirky merchandise is a pre-pandemic theme that has seen recent resurgence from brands including Coors Light and McDonald's.
As more people become vaccinated and leave their homes, brands are treating their summer marketing with different levels of caution. While Coke's poetic packaging evoked similar restraint to Absolut's campaign, Pepsi hardly held back with a spot that showed a range of germ-spreading activities. Alcohol brands like Busch Light and Keystone Light have also channeled anticipation in order to excite consumers to return to bars and restaurants.