With sales on the rocks, Absolut plans to spend more on mobile and social

While whiskeys are booming — sales were up 8 percent last year, according to Distilled Spirits Council — vodka sales were flat. Absolut, in particular, saw a 5 percent sales decline in its biggest market, the U.S., its 2014-2015 annual report shows. Now, Absolut is boosting marketing to combat this spend, with an eye on the twin forces of mobile and social.

For instance, this year the company refined its digital play “Hoppr by Absolut.” The Facebook-supported platform lets fans sign in with their Facebook ID and see who is hosting a party nearby — or broadcast their own party. Absolut debuted “Hoppr by Absolut” in New York City a couple of weeks ago, expanded this initiative to Coachella this past weekend, and then will bring it to Los Angeles in May. The brand is looking for the right time for a national roll-out by end of this year.


Absolut used around 10 influencers to promote “Hoppr by Absolut” in New York City and will have a different set for the Los Angeles launch.

“Influencers are authentic to our brand,” said Nick Guastaferro, director of marketing for Absolut. “We establish ourselves as a nightlife leader, so ‘Hoppr by Absolut’ will continue to be a big focus.”

Instagram and Facebook will continue to be a critical part of Absolut’s marketing mix to extend reach and drive conversion. While Guastaferro didn’t share any new social campaigns for 2016, he used the “Absolut Nights” platform as an example of where the brand is headed. As part of the platform, the company developed a new campaign in May of last year that consisted of a short film (or long TV commercial) featuring real Absolut events in New York, Sao Paolo, Berlin and Johannesburg, as well as music and lyrics by Australian electronic music duo Empire of the Sun. The company encouraged consumers to share their Absolut Night with #SparkYourNight on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

At the same time, Absolut debuted a limited-edition Absolut Spark bottle. It glows. To drive awareness and interest in the bottle, Absolut teamed up with Facebook Creative Shop to produce branded videos for Instagram and Facebook.

Guastaferro told Digiday that the campaign reached more than 40 million users across Facebook and received over 38.6 million total impressions on Instagram, 24 million of which came from the platform’s Marquee ad unit for a 24-hour takeover.“We debuted the ‘Absolut Nights’ platform in 2014 with a mission to push nightlife forward by challenging conventions. Absolut will continue to explore new iterations of the platform on various owned social networks including Facebook and Instagram,” said Guastaferro.

This year, Absolut will also place more focus on e-commerce. In January of 2015, the company collaborated with online and mobile alcohol delivery service Minibar to offer two cocktail kits — a Cosmopolitan Kit and a Vodka Gimlet Kit — on demand in New York City. Guastaferro declined to disclose sales numbers, saying that “conversions for e-commerce has beaten all internal benchmarks” and the company will continue to find “the right partnerships.”



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