Absolut Web: Site with a twist

By Published on .

Marketer taps `Wired' editor for role in controversial online offering

One thing is clear: Absolut's Web site, like its print ad campaign, will be anything but ordinary.

Jos. E. Seagram & Sons on May 23 will unveil "Absolut Kelly," produced in part by Kevin Kelly (AA, May 13). Mr. Kelly is executive editor of Wired, where Absolut is a prominent advertiser.

He's the first of several new-media experts who will create Web content for Absolut in a twist on the marketer's print ad campaign featuring artists. But his involvement in the project is stirring controversy over the role an editor should have in an advertiser Web site.

FROM BOOK TO WEB

The site is based on concepts described in Mr. Kelly's 1994 book, "Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World" (Addison-Wesley).

Absolut has been the primary advertiser on Wired's back cover for several years; the marketer may have spent $100,000 or more advertising in the magazine since the start of the year.

`NEVER AN ISSUE'

Mr. Kelly said he saw no problem creating content for a Wired advertiser. "It was never an issue in my mind," he said. "It may be unusual, but I don't see the danger in it."Wired, he said, isn't mentioned on the Absolut site.

Absolut concurs: "Wired isn't involved in the project," said a Seagram spokeswoman. "This is from Kevin individually."

Others say the separation of church and state must continue in the cyber world.

"I think it's very important not to blur the distinction between what is credible editorial content and what is marketing content," said Walter Isaacson, managing editor of Time.

TBWA Chiat/Day, New York, and Troon, Santa Monica, Calif., created the site. Contributing: Todd Pruzan.

Copyright May 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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