In case you are wondering, yes, I really am posing this question. Why is Absolut Vodka so popular? From a quality standpoint, there is nothing special about them. Their product is crisp and clean, but far from going down smooth. If you take shots of Absolut and think they are good, then I’m afraid you have not tried many brands of vodka. It doesn’t mix well in drinks either (I’m talking about the standard Absolut, not their various flavored vodkas).
So if it isn’t the quality that people are attracted to, what is it? If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting this vodka website it’s that the difference between a good vodka and an average vodka is very small. I’ve grown and learned to detect the small differences of quality of various brands, but for your average vodka drinker, it all tastes like rubbing alcohol. Don’t you think?
Absolut Vodka is a Marketing Genius
Absolut was established in 1879 by Lars Olsson Smith in Ahus Sweden. For the next 100 years, they dominated Swedish vodka sales before introducing their product to the rest of the world in 1979. It is the largest international spirit and is available in 126 countries. The grain is nothing special, just winter wheat. They run a “continuous distillation process” that refines their vodka into what you find in the store. So far, they appear to be just a normal liquor company.
Well, in 1980, they began their longest running ad campaign of featuring their unique glass bottle in various settings with the phrase “Absolut _____”. The genius of this ad is in the simplicity and branding. With nice images and an identifiable bottle, you are programmed into thinking that Absolut is a quality product.
The various nouns used throughout the years on the different ads appeal to you in different ways, thus making it appear that Absolut is a good choice for any occasion. And finally, because they limit their ads to such few words, you don’t feel like they are cramming it down your throat. Because you are dissecting the artistic images and making your own opinions on what they are going for, you remember the ad and have stronger emotions about the product. Very smart indeed.
Innovators of the Times
Absolut has been the first to appeal to various demographics and markets. It’s ads have been featured in gay media since 1981. Keep in mind this was before the recent push to make homosexuality socially acceptable. The ad appeared in gay film festivals sponsored by the brand. Absolut Vodka has also been the official corporate sponsor of the GLAAD Media Awards for many years. Absolut has done their research and has appealed to just about every group of people.
Absolut has even pushed to the random outliers of society by employing comedic actors Zach Galifianakis, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim to make a film for their website. I’ll say this now, these “commercials” are funny but definitely not made for the general public. They can be seen online and channels like Toon Network’s Adult Swim. Go ahead and take a look at the video right now. There are probably two kinds of people in this world: those who will find the commerical hilarious, and those who will think it’s the stupidest thing they have ever seen. I’m of the first camp, and think Absolut was ingenious to employ these guys. It only pushes their brand even further.
Use beautiful ads to appeal to wide audience
Finally, they have managed to stay relevant with their art. With an excellent team of graphic designers, they have managed to create an array of eye pleasing ads that have really appealed to their audience. Vivid images with vibrant colors that reach deeper into a person than just logic of a good product.
This is probably at the heart and soul of Absolut’s success. Their ability to hammer the market with so much imagery that they are bound to create something that appeals to you. Marketing marketing marketing. It should come as no surprise that this is the key to the companies ability to grasp the public. The image above is awesome and you want to just look at it for a few more seconds than you would any other ad. But what does it really have to do with Absolut? Well, it’s an “Absolut World” so therefore everything has to do with Absolut. It’s an ingenious ad campaign that lets them create awesome works of art and slap their product in the lower right hand corner. I’m impressed more than anything else, they are definitely masters of their craft.
How does this affect me, the consumer?
It’s just like anything in the world, make your own decisions about a product. I personally choose to avoid the brand. I’ve reviewed Absolut Vodka and personally don’t think it’s anything special. Not because I have some distaste for the company, just the vodka. I think some of their flavored vodkas are decent, but their flagship flavorless product is just standard. And it sucks because I really do want to like Absolut because I really do like their ads and marketing. Unfortunately, it’s just not the product for me.
But what do you think? Am I totally off base on assessment of this company? Are they more than just a marketing phenom? Or maybe you agree with me. In any case, please comment below and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear some other point of views.