Absolut Brings Album Art Campaign Online

Absolut is taking the wraps off an elaborate online component of its “Absolut Album Covers” campaign, centered around vintage vinyl album cover art.

The Swedish vodka brand’s offline campaign, which launched in September, features remakes of classic album covers — from the likes of the Velvet Underground and Nico, David Bowie, and Judas Priest — to feature the iconic Absolut bottle. For instance, the “Absolut Underground” execution shows a tweaked version of the band’s seminal 1967 album, sporting a bottle-shaped Andy Warhol banana peel.

Now, the brand — which in recent years has made art the central focus of its offline work — aims to take its most recent effort further, with elements of the Absolut.com Web site dedicated to extending the effort and celebrating 60s and 70s album covers.

“What we’re doing on the site is to make people really feel what an album cover is,” said Absolut Online spokesman Michael Persson. “We don’t see an album cover as just music. It’s something that the artist was very much involved with in doing the album itself.”

The campaign continues Absolut’s extensive efforts to reach consumers using the Web, though its online initiatives to date have tended to diverge dramatically from the brand’s offline work. While the company’s print advertising during the past five years has maintained a relatively reserved tone, Absolut has launched a number of online branding efforts that have been more attuned to youth audiences: incorporating electronica, film production and, in a dose of metahumor, ads about online advertising itself.

“It’s a way for us to reach new consumers that we don’t reach via print advertising,” Persson said of the company’s online work. “The consumer that we try to reach via print is a little bit older, up to about 45 years old, but Web sites’ average user is a little bit younger, 25 to 35. The younger consumers don’t read magazines that often, which means that it’s an impossibility for us get into contact with them.”

In the new effort, Absolut.com will feature commentary from art expert Rob O’Connor, director of London-based design agency Stylorouge, which has done work for Bowie, Blur and Craig David. The site also features anecdotes about the artists, and tools for consumers to design their own cover art — which they can download as a screensaver.

To promote the site’s new features, the company is tapping its longtime agency, New York-based TBWAChiatDay, to design an online ad campaign borrowing from features on Absolut.com.

In keeping with the brand’s earlier online advertising efforts, the new ads again will rely on large rectangle formats — and won’t be designed specifically to divert traffic to Absolut.com. Instead, the goal of the ads, which use Flash-based animation and sound, remains to only “interact with the consumer for a while,” Persson said. “That’s a choice that’s worked very well. We have click-through rates about four or five times above the industry average.”

Music sites, like RollingStone.com, will be featured prominently in the media buy, as will community sites like Gay.com, and fashion-oriented sites like ELLE.com and Style.com.

Persson added that as the offline “Covers” effort continues and moves into international markets, more content will be added to Absolut.com.

“Absolut.com is really driving the brand in a direction which we like,” he said. “It’s all about being creative and being cutting-edge. Those parts of the brand are really enforced by the parts of Absolut.com we have in service here.”

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