The art of collaboration: How The Absolut Company finds the perfect fit
Famous and engaging collaborations have been a big part of The Absolut Company’s DNA throughout the years. We chatted with Elsa Rafen, Global Partnership Manager at the company, to learn about the secret ingredient in creating the perfect partnership.
The Absolut Company has a rich history of impactful collaborations that have left a lasting impression on culture. Through partnerships with fashion, visual arts, and music Absolut has for decades effectively driven its message for a more inclusive world and its support for the LGBTQ+ community. Elsa Rafen, Global Partnership Manager at The Absolut Company, sheds light on their expertise in crafting captivating collaborations with other companies.
How has The Absolut Company been so successful with collaborations?
Creative collaborations have been an integral part of Absolut’s marketing strategy since its days at Studio 54 and its collaboration with Andy Warhol in the 70s and 80s. Absolut gave artists and designers a platform to reach broader audiences – it democratized art. This was coupled with unwavering, and vocal, support to the queer community – which is normal today but was unheard of at the time. In the early 80s Absolut became the first brand to advertise in gay magazines such as The Advocate. Our drive to contribute to a more inclusive society – which has continued since – gained us a lot of love and trust.
The powerful combination of love, iconicity, and credibility makes Absolut really appealing to brands and creatives alike
Why is The Absolut Company such an attractive company to do collaborations with?
Because Absolut’s history of creative collaborations and ad campaigns have built an icon with a credible voice in culture, and because we have continuously built upon this heritage – whether with purpose-led campaigns such as #sexresponsibly or with playful collaborations such as our recent one with Heinz tomato sauce. The powerful combination of love, iconicity, and credibility makes Absolut really appealing to brands and creatives alike. And let’s not forget the power of our bottle itself – it is many creatives’ dream to create a limited edition Absolut bottle design.
What is the secret sauce of making the perfect collaboration?
In today’s context, the most important ingredients for a collaboration to break through are surprise and genuine co-creation. Consumers today are bombarded daily with new brand collaborations fighting for their attention. A cool partner and cool designs are not enough. There needs to be an element of the unexpected – in the product, amplification, or choice of collaborator – to stand out and genuine co-creation to generate engagement. Consumers will see right through – and scroll right past – anything that feels like a logo slap.
Our recent collaboration with Heinz – for our limited-edition vodka pasta sauce – is definitely one of my favorites. It catapulted Absolut into a new product category and gave the brand amazing earned media coverage.
What has been your favorite collaboration throughout the years and why?
Our recent collaboration with Heinz – for our limited-edition vodka pasta sauce – is definitely one of my favorites. It catapulted Absolut into a new product category and gave the brand amazing earned media coverage. It demonstrated the brand building potential of collaborations within unexpected – and seemingly unrelated – categories. These will certainly not replace collaborations within artistic spaces – such as fashion and music – but can be powerful complements to building Absolut’s relevance in contemporary culture.
Do The Absolut Company have specific criteria’s when selecting collaboration partners?
There is no checklist. We try to understand who the brand partner is and what they stand for. We also try to assess whether there is genuine enthusiasm and a desire to co-create – it is essential and really shows through in the end. The ‘right’ partner is similar enough – e.g. in values – for the partnership to feel authentic but different enough to bring a touch of tension to the collaboration, an element of contrast that brings inspiration and interest.
Are there any particular industries that The Absolut Company is keen on collaborating with in the future?
Brand collaborations are about nurturing an emotional connection with our consumers and building our relevance in contemporary culture. This will come to life in different ways and in different categories across geographies – there are so many opportunities. Fashion will certainly remain a big area of interest for its significance in contemporary culture and as a channel of self-expression but more important than the categories we choose is ensuring we show up in a relevant manner and meet our consumers where they are.