SHM and Absolut: The Perfect Match?

Jacob Deviney
Section 1

Revolution in Marketing

In 2012, Absolut paired up with Electronic Dance Music (EDM) sensation Swedish House Mafia (SHM) to help produce a music video for their latest single. On March 12th the music video was released along with SHM’s single, and showed marketers a new way to target audiences; by working with popular musicians and taking advantage of their fan base. This was not a simple case of having the musician featured on a print ad or sponsoring a concert, Absolut was involved in all aspects of making the music video of SHM, and actually used parts of the video for their television commercial.

The reason the pairing worked so well and made so much sense is that alcohol, and vodka in particular, is an essential part of rave culture in many people’s minds. Combining one of the most popular brands of vodka with a massive cultural symbol in EDM to promote both brands is a brilliant marketing move. There’s an added bonus in that both Absolut and all three members of SHM are Swedish, giving the campaign even further authenticity.

Target Audience and Positioning

The entire goal of this campaign was to introduce Absolut to a younger demographic, trying to capture the 19-25 year olds without alienating their current customer base of 25-35 year olds.

To accomplish this goal they targeted essentially any fan of SHM that consumes alcohol, a very broad target. Even though the target audience is quite broad, it is homogeneous in many ways. Alcohol is one of the staples of rave culture with scenes such as this playing out at nearly every show:

Combining this with the demographics of the average rave, which is fairly evenly split between males and females aged 16-24 with an average age of 20 (Dolson, 2011) and there is really no reason not to target this group.

To target these young people Absolut and SHM put together a campaign designed to promote the image that Absolut creates cocktails that suit your music, even going so far as to create a Greyhound Cocktail and have those in the video drink it while they watch the futuristic dog race.

Combined with the image of being intricately involved with music, Absolut also wants to promote the image of luxury judging from the theme of the video. It is also obvious that they realise that their target audience is quite savvy when it comes to advertisements, as they make it very clear that the video is an ad without showing the brand too overtly, the emphasis is on the music and video first and foremost, which was much appreciated by the fans. Had Absolut made the video solely about selling their vodka, it is likely the quality would have suffered and the campaign would have hurt the image of both Absolut and SHM.


Even though their target audience is slightly younger than their average customer, Absolut knows that they need not give any information in this campaign, using only emotional appeals. It touches on many of the emotions that are a part of the culture already such as friendly competition and passion for music while adding in luxury to support the current brand image ofAbsolut. The music video is also very exciting and fun to watch, which helps to catch viewers’ attention. This campaign used solely affective tactics and positioned themselves as a brand that is intricately involved in EDM culture. To do this they created a website where anyone could remix the song that SHM released, with the best remixes being released by a record label. This added authenticity to the campaign and let customers truly be a part of the music creation process.  

To reach audiences Absolut made use of multiple mediums including print ads, billboards and television commercials, but mostly they took advantage of a free and very popular service: Youtube. Youtube was the platform upon which they launched the campaign, and it was supported through other mediums. Absolut also paired with Shazam in order to make it even easier for potential customers to find the song. Having their message spread so thoroughly and through so many advertising vehicles helped to firmly tie their brand with that of SHM and the EDM culture in general.

In terms of the Hierarchy of Effects and Purchase Decision-Making \process  it is quite obvious what area Absolut is aiming at. Through these advertisements Absolut was attempting to change consumers’ liking and preference to put Absolut in the most prominent position in consumers’ Evaluation of Alternatives. Absolut uses emotions in order to position its brand in such a way that it is seen as the vodka of choice when attending EDM concerts or even simply listening to such music. In this way customers can enforce their own image of being a part of the rave culture simply by drinking Absolut while raving.

Moving Forward

Absolut has continued this campaign with other artists as well, picking musicians that are considered popular but still classy and refined. This should be their top priority, if Absolut is able to associate their brand with music in general and not only EDM in particular, it would increase their customer base by a vast amount. This would be nearly impossible as nearly everyone listens to music, so focusing on certain genres would be the best way to go. With the addition of artists such as Dan Black and Little Dragon, they are expanding into the alternative genre, where they will still be able to maintain their image of class and refinement.

In order to further support the Greyhound campaign Absolut should use event marketing. Currently SHM is in the process of completing their final tour before disbanding as a group, this would be the perfect opportunity for Absolut to pair up with SHM and add a show sponsored by Absolut. At this event the Greyhound cocktail would be the cheapest drink and would be promoted heavily, this gives the customers the chance to truly associate the cocktail with the song and the emotions that go along with it. If Absolut succeeded in doing this customers would likely be reminded of the event simply by smelling a grapefruit and would relive the experience in their mind, hopefully culminating in the purchase of a bottle of Absolut for some homemade cocktails.

Overall this was an astoundingly well done campaign by Absolut. They reached a broad yet quite homogeneous group of potential customers, and appealed to this group in the most effective way possible; through the internet. Absolut may now be taking the spot of Grey Goose as the vodka of choice for young EDM fans.

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