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Absolut is a model of advertising consistency. In 20 years, the Swedish vodka has become the No. 3 spirits brand in the U.S. Its advertising has been led by Carl Horton, VP-marketing at Seagram Spirits & Wine Group since 1994.

Where longtime campaigns of some marketers can lose impact over time, Absolut has raised the bar.

The company veteran launched Internet marketing efforts and increased sponsorship of artists, fashion designers and local events. He expanded Absolut's geographic focus to include the Midwest and Texas in addition to the coasts. He also expanded the demographic target to include African-Americans and Hispanics.

"You develop a feeling," Mr. Horton says. "It's not rocket science. A lot of it is just common sense."

Absolut has grown about 5% annually since the mid-1990s. Mr. Horton says this year's increase could reach 8%, in part because of the July introduction of Absolut Mandrin, the brand's first new flavor in seven years.

He helped steer distribution nationally and gave the nod to chic launch events such as museum parties with rides in an orange hot air balloon.

"It seemed to be the right product at the right time," says the 50-plus Mr. Horton, who has worked on every Seagram category save scotch and cognac. Mandrin exceeded expectations and sold 182,000 cases in its first six months.

Between Mandrin, original, Kurant, Peppar and Citron, the brand last year sold more than 4 million cases -- 1.5 million more than when Mr. Horton started.

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