Before Jay-Z took the stage on September 11 at Madison Square Garden, the sponsor of the concert, Absolut vodka, hosted a reception at the Garden's private clubhouse. I accepted the invitation not only because I knew the concert would rock - and it did! - but because I was curious to find out how Absolut vodka positions itself these days.
When I started my career in the mid-1990s, Absolut was the only brand I knew to ask for when I ordered drinks with my girlfriends. But when those outings turned into dates and toasts over promotions and engagements, it seemed like there was always a new fancy or unusual vodka to try (potato? organic?). Still, in my mind Absolut remains tried and true, with that royal blue lettering and beloved clear bottle. When ordering flavored vodka, I've never asked for any other brand.
Headed to the reception, though, I realized my Absolut knowledge was sadly out of date. I could not recall what had replaced the legendary ads featuring artist-decorated bottles, the campaign that had cemented my loyalty: In high school, I plastered the pink walls of my bedroom with those ads, carefully torn from my parent's magazines.
In the comfy confines of the Garden's wood-panelled clubhouse, I quickly got up to speed thanks to Alisa and Kris Wixom, who both work on the Absolut campaign for TBWA Chiat/Day New York.