Print ads showing Absolut bottle shape in a Paris Metro entrance and the insides of a Geneva timepiece

Absolut Shift from Advertising Icon to Enigma

It’s not enough anymore for brands to “just” have a TV commercial. Video can be spread much farther, so the goal is often for a brand’s commercial video to go viral.

What started me thinking about this lately was the Absolut Greyhound ad. It has this very cool, futuristic vibe to it, but it didn’t seem to really push the product.

See for yourself:

I’m not a fan of this video as an advertisement, though it does make a decent music video for the Swedish House Mafia. And you’ll see there’s even a call to action in the bottom left corner of the ad to “Shazam now” and, I guess, find the music and/or video on the mobile music site.

Maybe Absolut wanted it to seem like product placement in the video instead of an advertisement. The problem is, will you really make the association between futuristic greyhounds and Absolut vodka? I doubt it. But their previous ad, I think, did things a bit better.

Crowdsourcing the Creative

The previous ad was called “Absolut Blank.” Here it is:

Absolut Blank is described on their YouTube site as:

a global creative movement, in which ABSOLUT appears as a catalyst for contemporary leading-edge creativity. In collaboration with a new generation of artists:

Adhemas Batista
Aestethic Apparatus
Brett Amory
Dave Kinsey
David Bray
Eduardo Recife
Fernando Chamarelli
Good Wives & Warriors
Jeremy Fish
Ludovica Gioscia
Marcus Jansen
Mario Wagner
Morning Breath
Robert Mars
Sam Flores
Thomas Doyle
Zac Freeman

This is a fantastic idea—a way to get more people interested and involved. I don’t know so much about using Absolut as a catalyst for a “global creative movement,” but they do get an international audience as evidenced by the comments on YouTube being in various languages.

My personal favorite comment is one that contradicts the ad’s closing statement, “It all starts with an Absolut Blank.” The commenter’s idea was (I’m paraphrasing): Doesn’t the night usually end as an absolute blank if you’ve been drinking?

I love that the artists get credit for their work. However, these videos, both Greyhound and Blank are far from viral.


1-min ad = 5800 views

3-min offical music video = 614,000 views

1-min ad = 83,700 views

Notice it’s the music video that gets the most views. What does that say about the intent here?

A Look at Absolut’s Iconic Past

If you’re a consumer of Absolut, which I am, you will know that they named their vodkas for flavors: Absolut Citron, Absolut Mandrin, Absolut Kurant, etc.

So where do “Blank” and “Greyhound” come from?

Absolut was always known for their iconic print ads, which featured the outline of a vodka bottle seen “naturally” in different locations or items (like the Paris Metro and this watch below).

Print ads showing Absolut bottle shape in a Paris Metro entrance and the insides of a Geneva timepiece

They had to do something different to compete in today’s world, and they had to stay in brand too. I think their new ads do stay in brand but need some tweaking to get the Absolut brand back to iconic status.

I’m not confident they’ll be able to do that. Are you?


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