NEW YORK Absolut Vodka isn't shy about throwing events every time it launches a new line of wares, but, in a slight change of tactics, the Pernod Ricard-owned company chose to debut its product for this holiday season with an intimate dinner for 100 or so members of the press. Conceived as a more personalized setting for the brand's reps to introduce Absolut Glimmer directly to editors, the Wednesday night event was presented in three acts: a cocktail hour with custom libations crafted by Absolut's in-house mixology team; a three-course seated dinner catered by Great Performances; and a surprise performance by Cee Lo Green. Planned and produced by Sarah Bessette, director of spirits public relations at Pernod Ricard USA, alongside Extra! Extra!, the launch took over the two floors of the Glasshouses at the Chelsea Arts Tower.
“We wanted to provide a unique, intimate experience for a very select group of editors. Typically what we do when we're launching a new flavor or a new product in our portfolio is meld the consumer aspect with the press,” said Bessette, explaining that unlike previous Absolut events, this one was purposely done on a smaller scale. “I think sometimes you just have to take a step back, and it's always important to try and reinterpret what you're doing. It's very easy to come up with a cookie-cutter approach to launching new products, but it starts to get a little staid, and the creative team gets a little bored. It's fun to do things in a different capacity.”
Within that framework, the team based the night's design on the Absolut Glimmer bottle, a beveled glass piece fashioned to look like crystal, with lights and reflective paraphernalia figuring largely into decor. Custom candelabra and chandeliers—including an enormous piece that used the Glimmer bottles in place of lights—adorned the cocktail and dinner space on the 21st floor, silver vinyl covered the long banquet tables, and string lights bedecked the floor-to-ceiling windows in the 14th-floor performance area.
The intimacy of the dinner also extended to the musical portion of the event, with just a small stage and microphone, no backup singers or band, or intimidating security guards to prevent the guests from seeing the singer close up. To Absolut, Green was a logical choice who matched its image and what Bessette described as the “icing on the proverbial cake.” She added, “To have Cee Lo at the event could not have been more timely. He really fits within our demographic, and he's so relevant, with the new album that dropped last week, one of the biggest viral video hits on YouTube, and Gwyneth Paltrow singing his song on Glee [on Tuesday].”
Although the dinner setting was a departure from what Bessette has previously planned, she considered the event a success. “It was a way for us to bring everybody together and have everyone sit down meet new friends,” she said. “As much as New York has a big media base, it's a small creative community of people, so it's nice to get everybody with similar interests together and talk. It gave the brand an opportunity to talk to people one on one, which, when you do it in a big setting, is just more complicated, as there are so many more people to interact with.”