Who: Corby Spirit and Wine (Absolut Vodka brand), with Ogilvy Canada for strategy and creative, and Citizen Relations for PR.
What: “Mix Your Neighbourhood,” a campaign using AI to turn neighbourhood descriptions into extravagant cocktail art, while using mixologists to bring those drinks to life.
When & Where: The campaign launched on Friday with an emphasis on earned media using a combination of wild posters and a video running on the brand’s social pages. There is also a dedicated “Mix Your Neighbourhood” tab on the Absolut website, with people invited to submit their own neighbourhood for consideration. An art exhibition is planned for May to showcase the AI-generated images.
Why: Broadly speaking, the brand is looking to appeal to legal-age vodka drinkers. “We want people who are making their next cocktail to consider Absolut as the perfect vodka to mix in their cocktail of choice,” said Caroline Begley, vice-president of marketing for Corby Spirit and Wine.
Vodka is a key spirits category in Canada, and Absolut is a “major player” within the category, said Begley. The hyper-local campaign is designed to make the brand relevant to consumers, while building its cocktail credentials and demonstrating why it’s the perfect mixing brand.
“Vodka is a category that really lends itself well to a lot of innovation, and Absolut champions innovation, pushing boundaries and new thoughts, and we’re really trying to deliver on that,” said Begley.
How: The campaign leans into the brand’s storied history of visually arresting advertising, such as its iconic advertising campaign that spanned nearly 30 years and generated more than 1,500 executions.
To create the AI cocktails, Absolut spoke with bartenders from more than 20 neighbourhoods across Canada and asked them to describe the neighbourhood’s traits. Those traits, such as “mouthwatering,” “savvy,” “bookish,” and “‘industrial,” were then fed into an AI image generator to create a series of images of extravagant, brightly coloured cocktails.
Bartenders then created a series of actual cocktails and mocktails reflecting the AI art, all of which can be found on the Absolut website. The recipe for Victoria’s Chinatown neighbourhood, for example is comprised of “1 part community, 1 part narrow alleys, 1/2 part tradition and 1/2 part flavour” although there is a corresponding actual recipe that uses Absolut, lemon juice, simple syrup, créme du mure (a blackberry liquer) and whole blackberries.
“We hope that through the creativity of the idea, and the visual beauty of what we’ve created, that people will say ‘Hey, have you seen this? What would it be like for our neighbourhood created as part of it?,'” said Begley.
Beyond the border: While much of the spirits marketing in Canada tends to be adapted from international campaigns, this is a bespoke Canadian campaign based on the brand’s global brand platform, “Born to Mix.”
“We believe in mixing people, ideas, places and Absolut champions that across the board,” said Begley. “Under that overall umbrella, we wondered what would be a great local expression of that, and we started thinking about what would be exciting and interesting to Canadian consumers, and what would make “Born to Mix” feel very local and relevant.”
There’s also a chance that “Mix Your Neighbourhood” could extend beyond Canada. “We’re excited about it and do think that it potentially has global reach,” said Begley. “We’ve shared it with the global team in Stockholm, who are very excited about it as well.”
And we quote: “Absolut is always looking for new ways to mix, and the combination of neighbourhoods and AI technology unlocked a rich territory for mixology that hasn’t been explored visually before. Through this campaign, we want to leave Canadians inspired by the people, places and culture that surround them and to drink in every last drop of what makes these places special.” — Caroline Begley, VP of marketing, Corby Spirit and Wine