After several years of regional marketing, Absolut returns today with what the brand says is its biggest global campaign in over a decade.
"The World of Absolut Cocktails. Born to Mix" sees the Pernod Ricard brand anthropomorphizing classic vodka cocktails as human characters with different backgrounds, life stages and characteristics. As the "Born to Mix" subtitle suggests, the personalities, while good on their own, can make the night — or the world — better when they come together.
"The idea is really rooted in the Absolut brand's DNA," said Pam Forbus, CMO of Pernod Ricard North America. "It's important to be a strong individual, but we create a better world when we mix and come together. … That's a metaphor for what's going on in the world today."
The campaign comes after more than two years of life under a pandemic, a period that has also been shaded by a stream of socio-political crises at home and abroad. While Absolut has run what it calls "instigation acts" in the last few years, including Sex Responsibly, Mix Responsibly and a recent Coachella activation, the brand chose this moment to return with a master brand campaign that speaks to both the brand identity and the current moment.
"It feels like our circles are constricted," Forbus said. "Whether it's the social algorithms that are just feeding you what you want to hear or whether it's been these lockdowns, we haven't really been able to be out in the world. When we embrace other ideas, that's when we create new thinking, when we can make the world a better place."
In its first iteration, "The World of Absolut Cocktails" revolves around a handful of color-coded, cocktail-inspired characters that will appear across a variety of channels, including TV, out-of-home, social media and digital video. There's chic tastemaker Cosmopolitan; high-energy trendsetter Espresso Martini; trustworthy, easy-going Bloody Mary; cool, fun-loving Lemonade; and Madras, which press materials describe as "the perennial life of the party, the first to come and the last to leave."
Directed by Rodrigo Saavedra, campaign spots see the characters drinking, dancing, lounging and mingling to a disco soundtrack. A voice over by actor Rami Malek describes the world of Absolut as an exclusive yet inclusive one where expression, personalities and friendship is mixed. Despite a wide range of identities on display, a rainbow-colored aesthetic and a June launch, the campaign is not limited to Pride Month.
"Absolut has a long allyship with LGBTQ communities for 40 years, and so it's very integral to the brand — it feels very natural. This [campaign] could have come out at any month in the year. We're launching it during Pride Month, but we see this as part of the brand's DNA," Forbus explained.
Separately, Absolut is extending its relationship to these communities with Out & Open, an always-on platform that highlights the impact of LGBTQ bars and restaurants. As part of the effort, the brand has teamed with actor-comedian Bowen Yang; will publish an audio-visual content series; and will provide dedicated resources and training in partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The campaign will be amplified through paid social.
Meanwhile, "The World of Absolut Cocktails" will roll out in the U.S. this summer, Canada in the fall and other global markets in the future. Social and out-of-home elements in Miami, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles launched last week, with a 15-second TV commercial and 30-second connected TV spot launching today. Ogilvy served as the creative agency behind the campaign — the first major brand work the agency has done since winning the account last year — while fellow WPP agency Wavemaker will handle media planning and buying.
Its inherent connection to Pride aside, Absolut plans to run and iterate on "The World of Absolut Cocktails" for years to come, especially as it has been tested and vetted as appealing and aspirational to a broad range of target audiences.
"This would be a very expensive one-month campaign, put it that way," Forbus said.
Clarification: A previous version of this article omitted the full extent of WPP's work on this campaign, which includes input by Ogilvy as well as Wavemaker.