In the coming weeks, Absolut Vodka will begin distributing nearly 4 million bottles across the globe. And every one of them will be different.
The project, called "Absolut Unique," required a complete re-engineering of the company's production plant in Sweden, executives said. Described as "carefully orchestrated randomness," the process involved setting up splash guns and color-generating machines programmed with complex coating, pattern and placement algorithms to ensure that -- like snowflakes -- no two bottles are alike.
"Absolut Unique feels a bit mad scientist, a bit street art," Jonas Tahlin, VP-global marketing for The Absolut Co., said in a statement. "When the bottles first appeared on the conveyer belt, we cheered. By that point the production line looked more like an artist's studio than a bottle factory." He added: "A lot of world-class creators have made their interpretations of our iconic bottle. But this time Absolut was the artist." The Absolut Co. is a division of liquor giant Pernod Ricard.
The bottles will be individually numbered and distributed in 80 markets including the U.S., U.K., China, France and Germany. The unique designs incorporate 38 different colors and 51 pattern types. Marketing will include print and digital ads and promotions at stores and bars. Agencies on the project include Family Business of Stockholm for creative, packaging print and below the line. Digital is by Sweden-based Great Works and PR by Jung Relations, also based in Sweden.
Absolut has long made its iconic bottle a marketing centerpiece. Previous limited-edition bottles have included Absolut Glimmer, made crystal pattern-shaped glass, and city-inspired designs such as Absolut London, Absolut Miami and Absolut Brooklyn, which was designed by Spike Lee.
But the brand seems to be raising the bar with its effort, not only for the liquor category but the entire packaged-goods industry. "Anyone could do one or two unique products," Mr. Tahlin said. "We're making close to 4 million."
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