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CHICAGO On Thursday night, a trumpeter made his way through 500 guests at Rockit Bar & Grill during the launch party for Absolut's new “Anthem” ad campaign. At a branded bar, mixologist Daniel de Oliveira created vodka cocktails with ingredients such as agave nectar and muddled grapes; across from him, a digital photo booth churned out black-and-white images of guests clutching the fruity drinks while nearby an artist brushed neon hues onto a bottle-shaped canvas.
Part of a five-city tour that began in Miami in late September and will pass through Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York before the end of the month, the events aim to employ unexpected elements that play off the Anthem campaign's tag line: “Doing things differently leads to something exceptional.” Ann Fryer, manager of event marketing at Absolut parent company Pernod Ricard USA, tapped David Wilson and Nick Hines of MMG- Strategic Event Marketing to produce the launch party in each city.
“We've basically created a template experience that we're doing in all of the cities,” Wilson said. ”However, the content will differ to some degree in each market.” All of the events will involve mixology stations, live painting, and digital photography from Mark Van Studio, but the markets will employ different DJs. “We look at each market strategically” to find a DJ that will be ”a huge draw” for each event, he said. For example, Miami-based DJ Irie spun in Chicago; Sky Nellor will appear at the Dallas event; and in Los Angeles, DJ Vice—“who's huge on the West Coast"—will spin.
In each city, event organizers air the 60-second Anthem television spot, and “then we'll bring out some kind of fun, unexpected element that will really kick up the energy,“ such as the trumpet player in Chicago, Wilson said. “We wanted to create a sensory experience that would take things to the next level. So instead of just a DJ—which everyone does—it's a DJ and some type of horn."
The target audience for the events is what Absolut calls the “neo-yuppy,” Wilson said. “They're that group of young professionals that get into the coolest places. It's the 25- to 30-something crowd that works but also likes to go out and have fun.” To target that demo in Chicago, MMG partnered with Billy Dec and Arturo Gomez, co-owners of entertainment development company Rockit Ranch Productions. Dec and Gomez promoted the event to their clientele, and hosted the party at one of the venues they own.
The strategies for publicizing the events in other cities vary, with the goal of getting about 300 guests in each. “Miami is where we're headquartered, so we have an extensive list of our own there,” Wilson said. The event also has a digital piece that allows guests to R.S.V.P. through Facebook, and Wilson said that print materials distributed in each market will guide potential attendees to the event's Web page.