Absolut Mixes It Up

NEW YORK Featuring cocktail recipes in new Absolut ads is a first for the 24-year-old print campaign, created by TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York.

But “it’s not like shifting gears,” said Patrick O’Neill, group creative director at the New York agency. “It’s continuing to add a dimension to a campaign that’s exciting.” The print campaign has featured writers, designers and artists renderings of the iconic bottle in the past.

The five-execution print and outdoor campaign shows blown-up shots of the different mixers as a backdrop, with the Absolut bottle maintaining its prominent position in the ads. Each ad features one of the five different varieties of Absolut mixed in different ways, including Absolut Vanilia with cola and Absolut Citron with cranberry juice.

“At first blush, we wanted it to be beautiful,” O’Neill said. “We wanted people to dive right in.”

The ads were shot by Toby McFarlan Pond, a photographer who, in the 1980s, created a coffee-table book for Joy Division, featuring a cocktail for every song the group wrote. “It was very esoteric, thought provoking and beautiful,” O’Neill said. “We thought, ‘This guy is going to be great.’ “

O’Neill and art director Bill Montgomery, designer Warren Elwin and copywriter Andy Hall experimented with methods of shooting the product. “We looked at each liquid as a beautiful world of possibilities,” O’Neill said. They shot the vodka in tanks, vases and glasses, with crushed ice and cubed ice, to see what would look the best. For the cola execution, they photographed the liquid in 25 different configurations, taking up an entire day of shooting, before settling on the best take. “Each cocktail recipe had to have its own identity and mood,” O’Neill said.

Ads broke last month in outdoor and July magazines including US, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, and will run this month in August issues of Esquire, Golf Digest, House and Garden and Travel & Leisure.