Listen to the podcast or read the transcript:
I found this podcast very interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it had not come to my attention that Absolut only published print ads until I listened to the news about their first television ad. Second, I think it is amazing how long this ad campaign has lasted and how successful it had been in such a simplistic form. Richard Lewis mentioned that people started collecting these ads as pieces of art unveiling their strategy and perhaps the reason why Absolut was able to run print ads for so long successfully. It can also be noted that Absolut was smart to stick with print ads throughout the mass transition to digital and T.V. ads knowing that print ads would soon become more rare, consumers are intrigued by rarity, and therefore, would draw more attention.
1) Richard Lewis says, “You can’t create a campaign and say, okay, we’re going to make these ads collectable. That is never going to work. But because they looked so darn good, people would want to hang them up on their walls.” That strikes me as being somewhat of a half truth. While the ads were without a doubt beautifully designed and executed, and had they not been so well designed probably no one would have hung them on their walls; but I have a feeling that college students would not have done so under any circumstances if they had been selling cranberry juice (i.e. admiration of the designs was not necessarily the prime motivation for hanging the ads on the walls). To put it another way, I’m calling bullshit on Richard Lewis. College students were very much a part of TBWA/Chiat/Day’s target audience. They (he and TBWA) knew what they were selling (alcohol), and they knew who they were selling it to. That people actually collected the ads was just gravy on the potatoes.
2) “People are drinking the ads as much as they’re drinking the vodka.” A better definition of ‘branding’ could not be written.
Richard Lewis makes a great point in highlighting how detailed the print ads were in order to be so visually appealing but I think he could have gone into more detail about Absolut ads that have a distinct emotionally appealing message as well. For example, the advertising campaign ‘In an Absolut World’ taps into our desperate longings for aspects of our lives and our world that could be improved or made more ‘Absolut’. This campaign addresses two different types of issues that can be remedied with their brand. First, problems faced by society as a whole (for example an ad depicting God showering the earth with ice, thus avoiding global warming). Second, and perhaps more important, are regional ads that have a distinct significance for the people living in the area where the advertisement is displayed (an ad displaying in an ‘Absolut world’ a completed 2nd avenue subway stop in New York City). To a consumer outside of New York City this ad might not have any significance but to someone who longed for that subway stop to be there might be motivated by this brand making an ad that promoted their personal longings to purchase Absolut vodka. I agree with Richard Lewis that the visual complexity of the print ads are important but I also think that Absolut’s ability to develop ads that tap into a consumers emotions on a single page or billboard is a fundamental reason why their print ads have been so successful to date.
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Depicts 320,000 light bulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage (inefficient wiring, computers in sleep mode, etc.).