ABSOLUT ADS SANS BOTTLE OFFER A SHORT-STORY SERIES: SEAGRAM ALSO PLANS ADS FOR AILING 7 CROWN, VO BRANDS

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The bottle that made Absolut famous is missing in some new magazine ads for the brand. Seagram Americas is trying an additional creative tack for Absolut, the leading premium vodka.

The new effort revolves around short stories about the brand. The fiction-filled ads are designed to appeal to readers of such magazines as Atlantic, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. The ads do not replace the award-winning "bottle" creative.

ENTERTAINING OPTION

"We are not about to deviate from what is successful," said Bob Bernstein, national marketing director for Absolut. "This is an entertaining and creative way to reach a potential target audience."

TBWA Chiat/Day, New York, handles Absolut.

The maiden ad in the fiction series, which first appeared last week in the February issue of Vanity Fair, was written by novelist and commentator Dominick Dunne.

Ads featuring stories by Douglas Coupland, author of "Generation X," and novelist Julia Alvarez are slated for later this year.

Seagram also is working up new ads for two big-selling but fading whiskey brands: 7 Crown blended and VO Canadian.

"Six to seven years ago, the decision was reached that those brands [7 Crown and VO] had reached the ends of their life cycles," said Arthur Shapiro, exec VP-marketing and strategy for Seagram. But "we are going to go back to spending again" on those brands.

Ogilvy & Mather, New York, handles both of those brands.

Seagram plans to roll out a new ad campaign for Seagram VO later this spring. It received a paltry $50,000 in media support in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

At the same time, the marketer will test-market a VO line extension called VO Gold, an 8-year-old whiskey, Mr. Shapiro said.

`BLUES BROS.' TIE

The 7 Crown brand will be getting a boost next month with a promotion tied to the release of "Blues Brothers 2000" from sister company Universal Studios. Seibel Marketing, New York, will handle the in-store displays and sweepstakes tied to that effort.

The movie promo will be followed in late spring or early summer by a new ad campaign and possible line extensions.

The 7 Crown brand received about $1 million in 1996 ad support, according to CMR.

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