It’s a Friday night, the entire gang is getting back together at your apartment, ready to hit the town and relive your college days. 

Hosting is exciting, you get to curate your own party. The snacks, the music, and most importantly the drinks. 

You grab some craft beers because you’re an adult now, and that’s what adults drink. And then you grab some vodka, the life of the party.

What type do you reach for? There’s absolutely only one right answer. Absolut Vodka. But it wasn’t always this way.
(I was going to add an Absolut bottle of vodka in my hand but I realized I have to teach, that wouldn’t be a good look.) 

Back in 1980 Absolut was a tiny player in the vodka market, only selling 10,000 bottles per year and capturing just 2.5% of the market.
The Swedish distilled liquor was a wanna-be premium player at a time when vodka consumption was skyrocketing thanks to James Bond. 

But their ill fate didn’t last too long. Legendary Advertising Agency, TBWA, came to save the day and the longest uninterrupted ad campaign ever ensued: The Absolut Bottle.
The ad campaign is donned by many as absolut perfection. It ran for 25 years, was used globally, and had over 1,500 variations. 

But why was it so successful? Absolut Vodka leaned into their USP, used verbal and physical puns, and leveraged mass personalization. 

At the forefront of The Absolut Bottle campaign was their bottle. It became the hero in every ad. Whether it was a silhouette or physical image, the shape of the Absolut bottle became iconic.
Being part of an extremely competitive market, copycat brands were common. But Absolut’s bottle was so distinctive that it could be recognized by silhouette alone.  

They knew this and ABSOLUTely leaned into it.
Okay, I know I’ve used that “absolute” pun like 17 times already, but there’s a reason for that. Absolut Vodka is the King of puns. Traditionally seen as lame “dad-jokes”, puns can be incredibly valuable in Marketing.

Just take a peel peek at the ad above where Absolut announced their newly released Mandarin Vodka flavor.
Puns are a stellar way to appeal 😉 to your customers.  They have multiple meanings, forcing your audience to pause to fully comprehend what they were just presented. Then they read it again. 

Once they understand the pun, a feeling of being let in on a secret arises. And you and I both know that nothing makes us want to spill the beans more than being let in on a secret. 

A perfect recipe for word of mouth Marketing (or WOMM as we call it in my household LOL).
A pun says more with less. It’s a puzzle for your audience to solve. And once solved, it’s a story for them to share. But what really blew the cap off this campaign was Absolut’s keen use of mass personalization. 

Absolut began to gain traction with their first handful of ads. Their vodka was now being sold all over the globe. A common pitfall of brands that see success is they become distant from the consumer. 

That intimate feeling you had with the brand vanishes once the big $$ starts rolling in. Absolut took a different route and became more in touch with their audience through their personalized geographic ads.
Instead of running a global campaign highlighting the allure of Absolut Vodka, they ran a variety of print ads targeting geographic hotspots.
Oh you live in Chicago, the windy city? Absolut has a windy print ad for you. Oh you live in Texas, where everything is bigger? Absolute has an ad for you.
Oh you live in New Orleans… enough of that jazz, you get the point. 
Absolut customized the experience for their audience, building trust and highlighting the brand’s cultural awareness and relevance. The ads show another touch of care and research put into them.  

Consumers don’t feel like they’re being sold to, they feel like they’re being understood. Now it’s got to be 5 o’clock somewhere? JK you did not just read that.
Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
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