By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com June 11 2003 11:00 PM ET
Absolut announces gay marketing campaign
Vodka maker Absolut has introduced an elaborate advertising and promotional campaign aimed at gay and lesbian consumers. Labeled "Absolut Out," the release of the ads coincides with the many June pride events in major cities with large gay populations. The yearlong campaign will feature local and national elements that include an oversize three-dimensional billboard traveling around the country; magazine, postcard, and Internet advertising; and sponsorship of fund-raisers for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.
Gay and lesbian consumers are "fiercely brand-loyal and go out a lot," said James T. Goodwin, vice president for marketing at the Absolut Spirits Co. in New York, a division of V&S Vin & Sprit A.B., the Swedish distiller of the Absolut line of vodkas, which has been advertising to gays and lesbians since 1981. "But they're not only important for what they consume. They're also important as influencers." According to Goodwin, Absolut's following among gay and lesbian consumers helped it catch on among mainstream vodka drinkers, and the brand grew to become the top-selling import.
The "Absolut Out" campaign plays on closeted sexuality with images of nine closets, each shaped like the Absolut bottle, on the mobile "Absolut Out" billboard. When the billboard arrives in a given city, the closet doors are closed. About 10 days later, the doors are simultaneously flung open to reveal the clothing, shoes, accessories, and tchotchkes emblematic of nine archetypes of gay men and lesbians, including the punk rocker, the activist, the preppie, the athlete, the dog-show aficionado, the bodybuilder, and, with a double-wide closet, the drag queen. Absolut "wanted to have some fun" with the types of people shown on the billboard "and not make it PC but broad and a little cheeky," said Patrick O'Neill, group creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day, the ad agency that came up with the campaign.