Monday, March 5, 2007

Absolut marketing

The Swedish government announced that it is getting out of the booze business, which means the third best-selling premium brand in the liquor industry, Absolut, is up for grabs. Absolut vodka reportedly accounts for about half of the sales of Vin & Sprit (no wasted vowels there), which is valued at $5.7 billion.

The next time someone disses Marketing, you should remind them of Absolut. After all, who had ever heard of Swedish vodka in 1980? And truth be told, Absolut is not as good as Stoli or the vast majority of the premium vodkas that have appeared in liquor stores since it was launched here twenty-seven years ago. (Trust me, I've done extensive taste testing. If you don't trust me, read this.) Nevertheless, it led the category for years.

So what transformed a Swedish vodka no one had ever heard of into a brand worth a couple of billion bucks? Carl Hamilton explains it best in his book, Absolut: Biography of a Bottle. He says it was the purity implied by the unique laboratory bottle, the faux heritage in the lettering, and the now-iconic Absolut this and that ad campaigns that tied the brand to everything and everybody that was cool over the past 20 years -- all of which were dreamed up by marketers.

So here's a tip of the martini to marketers. When they get it right, they really earn their keep. Skoal!

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