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Alcohol brands spend a massive amount of money to stay relevant in the eyes of consumers. The industry is a very competitive space where people tend to choose brands that match their lifestyles and aspirations. Because of this, booze brands strive to associate themselves with their consumers’ interests in art, music, fashion, food, sports, nightlife etc., and ultimately, it almost comes down to selling a perception rather than the drink itself. Absolut, in my opinion, is one of the best in building brand relevance, as it’s been able to consistently extend its brand past being just a vodka to establishing itself as a pop culture fixture, through the strategic integration of art, music, and nightlife. This past Friday, I attended Absolut’s most recent initiative, Nights by Absolut, and witnessed how it aims to connect with the next generation of consumers through these three elements.

Nights by Absolut is a series of global events that fuse nightlife and creativity to offer unique consumer experiences. Each will feature an artistic collaboration that re-imagines unorthodox spaces into nightlife venues, building off the brand’s “Transform Today” mantra. Artist Vita Motus designed the “venue” and it was one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen a show/ partied in. Guests had to venture to a pier on the outskirts of Red Hook, Brooklyn, which didn’t seem like an ideal place for a show or a “corporate rave”. But among the giant shipping crates and cranes, was a eye popping EDM venue. .

There’s no question that EDM dominates today’s nightlife scene, and Absolut was one of the first major brands to embrace this shift in music and party culture. The brand’s partnership with Swedish House Mafia in 2012 for its “Greyhound” campaign was highly successful and proved how much cash EDM could generate. As mentioned, Nights by Absolut event was practically a “corporate rave”, and these types of events have become more common as brands try to engage the new age, influential consumers. Simpy put, be where the cool folks are. But are things still that “cool” when it becomes tapped by big brands? The event had all the elements of a great electronic music event with bright fluorescent lights, LED screens, heart thumping bass, and stunning visuals. The only thing that felt off was the crowd. 70% of the guest in attendance seemed to be actual fans of the music, while the rest looked like they worked for the sponsors, were thirsty for free booze, or just wanted to flex on social media.The bar areas was way more packed than the dance floor for most of the night. This is one of the hurdles of experiential marketing, as you can’t guarantee that you’ll reach your intended audience or that your event will generate sales. Was this event making Absolut relevant with EDM fans?

The night’s talent featured AraabMuzik and Alvin Risk, who both killed their sets. After several rounds of Absolut infused slush drinks I was pretty content with Nights by Absolut, as it kinda made up for my disappointing Electric Zoo experience (well, not really). Before the night ended, there was buzz about a surprise DJ, In very dramatic fashion, one of the large shipping containers was lifted up to the DJ booth accompanied by fog and lights. The doors to the giant box slowly opened and emerged a silhouette, who turned out to be Zedd. I’m not the biggest Zedd fan, so I gave it shrug, but he did have a fun set. Now, if Absolut was able to reunite Swedish House Mafia , that would surely guarantee brand relevance.

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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

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