Absolut’s Epic New Ad Whizzes Through Time and Space, From the Big Bang to Now

A celebration of creativity and equality

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Absolut packs quite a lot into its epic new 60-second commercial from BBH London, the kickoff to a global campaign. In fact, it includes pretty much everything going back to the Big Bang, oh, about 14 billion years ago.

The spot, directed by Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (who won three straight Oscars for cinematography between 2013 and 2015, for Gravity, Birdman and The Revenant), opens in black space, except for a pulsating white dot, primed to explode and set the universe—and everything it would encompass—in motion.

“It all started one night,” says a woman’s voiceover at the outset. “A night that felt like it had been night for eternity. When, right out of the darkness, BOOM! An idea. The mother of all ideas.”

In a flash of light, we’re off and traveling through—literally through, as the viewer’s perspective races forward—the evolution of the life since that fateful explosion. The voiceover continues to wax poetic about ideas, and how they built on each other, as we see humanity take shape from the apes, eventually leading to the 20th and 21st centuries, and everything humans have accomplished, ever more rapidly, through their creativity.


Visually, it’s fantastic. Conceptually, it’s the kind of approach that means both everything and nothing, the ultimate bird’s-eye brand positioning. But if life, the universe and everything isn’t a very ownable concept, Absolut does infuse it with a point of view that ties strongly back to the brand—the idea of equality and inclusion as central to human advancement. In other words, not just progress but progressiveness.

It’s a gospel Absolut has preached for decades, and we get plenty of signposts pointing to it in the chaos of the spot. There are powerful racial and gender images embedded in the piece; there are also nods to political protests and LGBT rights. There’s the strong sense, in the end, that diversity and acceptance—saying yes instead of saying no—were the most fruitful ideas at every juncture of history, both before and after our own arrival on the scene.

The spot is nicely bookended, too. From the night that brought life, we eventually arrive at nightlife, something else Absolut knows a thing or two about. The glint in the eye of the woman at the end (“You can take it from here,” the voiceover assures her) is today’s small dot of light, infused with ideas, replicated by the billions across our species, ready to change the world once again (hopefully for the better—though these days, who knows?).

In its form, “One Night” is a bit reminiscent of classic spots like AMV’s “Noitulove” for Guinness or even BBH’s own “Life Is Short” spot for Xbox. The compression of an enormous amount of time into 60 seconds is always fun, and Lubezki’s visuals here are endlessly fascinating, and worth plenty of repeat viewings.

“Great ideas happen when people get together, more often than not the best of these ideas occur at night,” Ian Heartfield, executive creative director at BBH London, said in a statement. “This film is a celebration of the greatest idea that came from a night—the creation of life itself. It is the perfect launch for ‘Create A Better Tomorrow, Tonight,’ Absolut’s celebratory call to arms.”

That larger campaign is designed, unsurprisingly for Absolut, to celebrate creativity and champion progress. In addition to the “One Night” spot, the campaign launches with five artists (Mickalene Thomas, Toilet Paper Magazine, Olivia Steele, Stevie Gee and RUDE) working on global out-of-home and print ads that bring to life their personal ideas of a better tomorrow.

It will also extend to social, with content by photographer Catherine Losing, musician Nakury, illustrator David Luepschen, graphic designers Chrissie Abbott and Tracey Ma and street artists Bambi and Hansky to be showcased across Absolut’s social channels.

The Absolut Company Credits:
Anna Malmhake -­ CEO
Craig Johnson -­ VP Global Marketing
Gaia Gilardini -­ Global Communications Director
Sina Neubrandt -­ Global Marketing Manager
Oscar Danielsson -­ Global Brand Manager
Fredrik Thorsen -­ Global Head of Digital
Andrew Rozas -­ Global PR and Social Media
BBH Credits:
BBH Executive Creative Director: Ian Heartfield
BBH Creative Team: Simon Cenamor & Raymond Chan
BBH Producer: Victoria Keenan
BBH Assistant Producer: Zaf Choudhury
BBH Business Lead: Kate Roberts
BBH Account Manager: David White
BBH Account Executive: Janki Shah
BBH Strategy Director: Melanie Arrow
BBH Strategist: Raphael Bittner
Production Credits:
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki
MD: Stephen Brierley
Executive Producer (LA): Caroline Kousidonis
Executive Producer (London): Sophie Hubble
Producer: Nick Goldsmith
Post Production: Framestore
Creative Director: Andy Rowan Robinson
VFX Producer: Charles Howell
2D: Raul Ortego, Sebastien Boulange, Gigi NG, Karch Coon, Nick Tanner
3D: Phil Robinson, Charlotte Bae, Nate Diehl, Georgios Cherouvim, Mohamed
Design: Callum McKeveny
Editing House: Whitehouse Post
Editor: Russell Icke
Assistant Editor: Greg Hayes & Joe D’Ovidio
Producer: Antonia Porter
Colour: Company 3 NYC
Colourist: Tom Poole
Producer: Alex Lubrano
Music and Sound: Soundtree
Creative Director: Peter Raeburn
Music Supervisor: Jay James
Sound Designer: Henning Knoepfel
Music Editor: Luke Fabia

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.