And when the year 2007 came they ran out of ideas.

Well, maybe not ran out, but Vin & Sprit AB, Sweden’s state run distillery did decide to shelve the advertising campaign that their most famous brand of vodka had become synonymous with over the last 25 years. Absolute Vodka is officially dropping its global “bottle” ad campaign. You know this ad campaign by heart. Magazines, billboards, carrier pigeons, whatever, all plastered with some version of the ever-changing, punny-type take on the Absolut brand name.

Gems like “Absolut 19th” (Absolute bottle in the shape of a golf green) or Absolut Jet Lag (bottle turned upside down) and Absolut Web (Spiderweb shaped like bottle). How about Absolut Optimist/Pessimist (bottle that is either half-empty or half-full) or Absolut Subliminal (no bottle, just a glass of Vodka – my personal favourite) and Absolut Clarity (bottle with a magnifying glass in front of it) right down to Absolut Perfection (bottle with a halo), Absolut Bolshoi (ballet slipper ribbons that form bottle shape) and on and on and on. Some 1500 of these ads were created and run worldwide over the last 25 years.

And while an obligation to appreciate the effort that went into creating each of these ads is understood I still cannot help but think the ad firm working this account really hasn’t had to stretch that much over the last while. I mean really, these ads have got to a point where they almost write themselves. I’m thinking there must have been some pretty ridiculous discussions in the ad room near the end of their two decade plus run.

“Okay, the floor is open for suggestions”

“Absolut Monkeys.”

“Why monkeys?”

“I like monkeys.”


“Absolut Baboons.”

“Johnson, enough with the monkeys.”

“Absolut Orangutans”

“Johnson! For the last time…”

“Every Which Way But Absolut?”


You just know the ad guys are pretty stoked about getting to dream up some new ideas. Word on the street is that the big new promos will illustrate life in an “Absolut World.” This is to supposedly include a world in which, and I quote, “…men could have babies, the moon is a disco ball and there is no more global warming, while Times Square is an art museum instead of advertising central.”

Okay, then. While my first inclination is to assume they passed out Uhu glue sticks at their first post-bottle campaign brainstorm session and suggested everyone breath deeply, I will respectfully hold my tongue and wait to see what they come up with. Maybe they’re just a little out of practice, this being only the second ad campaign since the inception of the entire Absolut brand.

Apparently the decision to abandon the bottle campaign followed some in-depth research conducted in eight different countries, including our very own True North strong and free. They say that while consumers admired the bottle campaign they felt it “no longer provided them with enough opportunities to interact and get involved with the brand.”

How one would like to get involved with Absolut Vodka beyond popping the top and downing a shot is kind of hard to imagine, but marketing folk can be a breed unto themselves.

No matter though, I do hope they publish a book showing all 1500 of their ads. It might be fun to look at. There is already one book on Amazon but it only covers the first 15 years or so. I’d hate to miss out on all the good stuff published since 1985. Absolut Flux Capacitor anyone? Also, maybe they could use the occasion to explain some of the tricky ones. Honestly, I’ve found more than a few Absolut ads nearly as dense and confusing as Stephan Dion’s unique approach to Liberal politics.

Even still, Absolut deserves praise for taking such a risk. Any brand that decides to try something new after so very long is betting a lot on some obviously untested ideas. I’m sure more than a few shallow breaths were expelled around the board room table when the decision was ultimately made. Here in Canada we should get to see the new ads come the fall. And if they’re a hit you’ll hear no more about the old ones ever again. Should they tank, however, you might just see the once proud Absolut ads of old reappear in a magazine near you, ‘cause everyone knows that when it comes to marketing, nothing is Absolut.

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