Absolut Unveils “Director” Web Promotion

Vodka giant Absolut is debuting a new interactive promotion this week, designed to boost its presence on the Web while extending the branding efforts behind the vodka’s well-known print ad campaign.

The newly unveiled “Absolut Director” site encourages visitors to make their own film — by arranging video clips lifted from a cheesy, 1960’s Japanese monster movie. Users can add music, write voiceovers, and add titles to their creation.

Once visitors complete a movie, they can send it to friends or submit their work for consideration as a “must see” on the site.

To boost visits to Absolut Director, the site will showcase how several prominent and up-and-coming directors used the site. Beginning with Spike Lee this week, Absolut Director will eventually include adaptations by Marry Harron, Chris Smith, John C. Walsh and Mary Gillen.

The site was created by Alley-based TV and interactive design/media planning shop Submarine, and, according to creative director Dan Braun, was modeled after Woody Allen’s “What Up Tiger Lily,” in which the dialogue of an old Japanese spy film was replaced with Allen’s script.

“Absolut Director is an experiment in interactive filmmaking that’s meant to be fun and act as a unique creative outlet for people,” said Jim Schleifer, director of marketing at Seagram Americas, which distributes Absolut in the U.S.

The effort continues Absolut’s efforts in creating interactive projects to depict its brand identity as creative, classy and contemporary. Earlier endeavors included the Web site Absolut D.J., in which users could remix mix sounds from contemporary musicians like D.J. Spooky.

“Absolut Director is another great Absolut collaboration, harnessing an array of diverse talents,” said Richard Lewis, who is worldwide account director at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Absolut’s agency of record. Chiat/Day collaborated on the project, and also created a new print ad, “Absolut Director,” designed to boost awareness of the site.

Many other food, beverage and consumer packaged goods manufacturers have launched similar games and sites to promote their products online. For instance, Nabisco’s Web site features an interactive game in which users play an Indiana Jones-like adventurer on a quest to find Oreo cookies.

But lately, this type of thinking — building in interactive “experiences” into product Web sites — has come under fire by some industry-watchers, who contend that most users visit corporate Web sites not to play games, but in search of product information or special offers. If that’s correct, than elaborate efforts like Absolut Director miss the mark by giving Web surfers something they don’t really want — and potentially diluting the product’s image as a result.

Nevertheless, the approach has its supporters, not the least of whom are the dozens of interactive shops that count such work among their chief sources of income.

Brand marketers, meanwhile, often laud the effort because it encourages users’ familiarity with the brand’s “essence” — which conventional advertising wisdom sees as paramount to consumers’ selection of one particular product over another.

“Absolut Director is the natural evolution of global initiatives designed to draw consumers to absolut.com and interact with the brand through a creative experience,” said Eva Kempe-Forsberg, vice president of marketing at The Absolut Company, a subsidiary of Swedish alcoholic beverage giant V&S Group.

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