Absolut, 'Wired' editor close to unveiling site

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Jos. E. Seagram & Sons' Absolut vodka, in a potentially controversial move, later this month will unveil "Absolut Kelly," a Web site produced in part by Kevin Kelly, executive editor of Wired. Absolut is one of Wired's biggest advertisers.

Mr. Kelly is the first of several new-media experts who will create Web content for Absolut in a play on the marketer's long-running print ad campaign featuring various artists. The Kelly site includes things like the Human Ant Farm, in which a cyber-artist creates an image in real time based on user suggestions. Other areas of the site are termed Evolutionary Art and Bot Bar.

A sneak peak reveals design and content unlike most other major marketers' Web work. The opening page features an outline of the famous Absolut bottle with red words surrounding it.

A site description on the home page terms it "an experiment in interactive communications over the Web. ... Each edition will be refreshed daily, with new themes emerging periodically." The Kelly area, the description goes on to say, "seeks emergent wisdom of the whole by drawing a single outcome from the many voices of the net."

In addition to Web-specific content, the site contains the entire contents of Mr. Kelly's recent book: "Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World." The book was published in 1994 by Addison-Wesley.

"The overall attempt [of the site] was to make experiential some very abstract ideas," Mr. Kelly said. The site will have a splashy unveiling in Los Angeles this month. It was created by TBWA Chiat/Day and Troon, a Los Angeles developer of Web creative.

Absolut paid Mr. Kelly an undisclosed sum for his work, which will be featured for three months. Absolut said the site will be unveiled in a few weeks but didn't comment further.

Mr. Kelly said he saw no problem creating content for a Wired advertiser.

"It was never an issue in my mind," he said. "It maybe unusual, but I don't see the danger in it."

Wired, he said, isn't mentioned on the site. "I happen to have a life outside the magazine," he added.

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.

Copyright May 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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