Absolut Breaks Radio Realm

Absolut Kurant is the latest and most high-profile Seagram brand to break the liquor industry’s voluntary ban on broadcast advertising with new radio spots in nine markets.
Three 60-second spots for Kurant from TBWA Chiat/Day here have been airing during afternoon drive time and weekends on a mix of pop, soft rock and R&B stations in a bid to broaden the liquor’s appeal. The berry-flavored vodka debuted in 1993 but still trails other flavors in sales.
The three-month pilot project marks the first foray into broadcast ads for Absolut, a brand with a strong print heritage. “I would not be at all surprised if radio becomes [a regular] part of the mix, at least with Kurant,” said client representative Carl Horton.
Seagram first chipped away at the longstanding ad ban in 1996 with a TV spot for Crown Royal whiskey and a radio ad for Lime Twisted Gin. In April, Seagram boss Edgar Bronfman Jr. blasted TV network executives and cable operators for rebuffing his efforts to advertise liquor.
Two of the new radio ads, set in bars, tell bizarre stories. In one, a magician performs the “cups and balls trick” with live mice. Another features a female rodeo clown who meets a man with a “full-face spiderweb tattoo.” Tagline: “Go with what you don’t know.”
The ads broke four weeks ago in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Miami, San Francisco, Detroit and Atlanta. Horton would not disclose spending. Absolut spent $10 million on print ads for its flavored vodkas in 1997, per Competitive Media Reporting. The total account is worth $25-30 million.