The brief: With a tradition of producing limited edition bottles, Pernod Ricard UK wanted its latest launch for vodka brand Absolut to stand out. The brief was to take the limited to concept to a “new extreme”
Client: Pernod Ricard UK
Brand: Absolut Vodka
Design: Family Business
UK launch date: September 2012
Brands are obsessed with getting the right look for their packaging – a carefully orchestrated approach to colour and branding to achieve a consistent look. Pernod Ricard is no different but its latest campaign for a limited edition Absolut Vodka bottle had an unpredictable feel – a random element of inconsistency that makes each bottle unique.
Absolut Unique hit stores last month offering a neat twist to one-off editions. Nearly four million bottles have been manufactured for the edition and not one of them is the same – the spray painted look is generally unique.
“We have a long history of producing limited edition bottles but with Absolut Unique we wanted to take the concept to a new extreme,” explains Pernod Ricard UK marketing manager Adam Boita.
The brief was to create a “visual representation” of what the brand represents. According to Boita, the bottles needed to add depth and reinforce the “brand manifesto” – it’s about “transcending the conventional to create the exceptional”.
There was nothing conventional about the execution. The project was created in-house by Pernod Ricard and its design agency Family Business. The digital campaign assets were developed by Great Works. And what they wanted was a “one of a kind” look.
“We believe the limited edition bottles provide our customers with additional sales and profit opportunities when supported by maximum standout in-store or back-of-bar, to drive consumer visibility and interaction,” says Boita. “Our customers are all unique, so we wanted to give them each a one-of-a-kind bottle as individual as they are.” To get that stand out, a series of bright colours and patterns were developed.
“The striking look was achieved by colour contrasts and a white matte paper label that features each bottle’s unique number,” adds Boita. “Although the design is described by some as ‘street art’, this isn’t a style we intentionally set out for but is a result of the splash gun machinery and colourful paint used. The bottles have also been referred by others as a bit ‘mad scientist’.” To make the bottles come alive, Pernod Ricard had plenty of work to do on the production side. Getting the effect right meant the entire production line had to be re-engineered. In total, 35 different colours were used and 51 pattern types were applied to nearly four million bottles.
Boita explains: “It required a complex interaction of human and mechanical elements and a carefully orchestrated randomness to achieve the desired end result. Splash guns and colour generating machines were set up and complex coating, pattern and placement algorithms were programmed within the spray heads in order to ensure that no two bottles would be alike.”
The concept development, exploration, testing and planning of Absolut Unique took more than a year and decorating the bottles took several months of production time.
Priced at £21.50, Absolut Unique was launched into the travel retail market in September and will appear in “prestige retailers” this month. Pernod Ricard’s Boita describes the project as one of the brand’s most “inimitable, technically advanced and colourful bottle campaigns ever, offering one-off pieces”.
“The concept of Absolut Unique expresses our passion of design and creativity, and our unshakable confidence in doing things that have never been done before,” he adds. “As a brand we are pioneering, constantly evolving and challenging conventions – our limited edition bottles evolve from this ethos.”
This is far from Absolut’s first limited edition; yet its eye-catching colours and uniqueness are sure to give Absolut an edge in a crowded market. It’s an instant collector’s item; and whether you call the look “street art” or “mad scientist”, you’ll probably want one.