21 of the most clever Absolut vodka print ads

Shutterstock/Roxane 134Absolut’s iconic print ads generally featured the same two things: the bottle and the text.

In 1980, the advertising agency TBWA made an ad for Swedish vodka brand Absolut featuring a bottle of its product with a halo above it and the words “Absolut Perfection.” written below.

The ad was an instant hit and spawned one of the most iconic ad campaigns of the subsequent three decades – all including the Absolut bottle in a variety of creative displays.

By the time the campaign ended in the mid 2000s, Absolut had created more than 1,500 ads and drastically increased its US sales from a paltry 10,000 cases in 1980 to 4.5 million in 2000. Its advertising budget grew as well, from $US750,000 in 1980 to $US33 million in 2000. In that time, Absolut went from a newcomer to the US market to the most heavily advertised liquor brand in the world.

Despite not running its iconic bottle ads anymore, Absolut still dominates alcohol marketing. Its latest ad campaign features singer-rapper Lizzo as the face for a new product line: Absolut Juice.

Here are some of the most memorable Absolut ads in the original campaign’s 25-year run, in chronological order.

Aaron Taube contributed to a previous version of this post.

‘Absolut Perfection.’ (1980)


As one of the first US ads, many consumers saw “Absolut Perfection” before any other ad.

‘Absolut Haring.’ (1986)


A series of artists were commissioned to depict Absolut bottles, from Keith Haring (his ad is pictured above) to Andy Warhol.

‘Absolut Security.’ (1986)


This ad had a related counterpart, released two years later.

‘Absolut L.A.’ (1987)


By the late 1980s, Absolut began to experiment with using locations for their ads, highlighting something unique about them. Absolut’s “LA” ad was one of the first in the brand’s “Cities” series.

‘Absolut Larceny.’ (1988)


“Larceny” was a counterpart to “Security” – and a rarity in the brand’s ad catalogue, given that it doesn’t feature the bottle.

‘Absolut Subliminal.’ (1989)


If you look closely, there’s a (subliminal) message hidden in the ice cubes: “Absolut Vodka.” Simple. Direct. Classic.

‘Absolut Appeal.’ (1990)


For the release of a fruit-flavored variation, Absolut got “twisted” to announced its Citron flavour with an ad that played on “appeal”/”a peel.”

‘Absolut Chicago.’ (1990)


Three years after “Absolut LA,” they did the same with Chicago – which, of course, is known for being “the Windy City.”

‘Absolut Original.’ (1994)


Absolut played with its simple, yet striking bottle design. The word after “Absolut” usually explained the image – in this case, “Original” was playing with the idea of antiquity.

‘Absolut New Orleans.’ (1994)


In this ad, Absolut tapped into New Orleans’s rich jazz heritage by featuring Absolut trumpet valves.

‘Absolut Paris.’ (1994)


The brand also paid tribute to famous cities outside the US, as in this “Absolut Paris” ad. It pays homage to the French capital city’s metro stations.

‘Absolut Geneva.’ (1994)


The Swiss city is known for its watch-making, and this Absolut ad has one of the more subtle depictions of the bottle.

‘Absolut Amsterdam.’ (1994)


Absolut didn’t have to do much to make this Dutch canal house look like one of its bottles.

‘Absolut Aspen.’ (1994)


This Colorado city’s ski runs were edited to look like the Absolut bottle.

‘Absolut D.C.’ (1995)


For Absolut’s tribute to Washington, DC, it played on one unique aspect of the capital – the government “red tape.”

‘Absolut Achievement.’ (1995)


Absolut celebrated director Steven Spielberg’s AFI lifetime achievement award with a stack of his film reels, shaped like the bottle.

‘Absolut Revealed.’ (1999)


This ad showed off Absolut’s mandarin flavour and featured another clever play on the fruit’s peel.

‘Absolut Squeeze.’ (2002)


When Absolut advertised different flavours, it did so in style – like with this follow-up ad for the mandarin flavour.

‘Absolut Envy.’ (2002)


Absolut repeated its spotlight and bottle theme over and over again, even in the last years of the ad campaign.

‘Absolut Texas.’ (2002)


Everything is bigger in Texas – even the bottles of Absolut.

‘Absolut Yoga.’ (2002)


The company kept up with the hot trends of the day (in this case, yoga) while keeping its ads classic.

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