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Absolut Hardwork -  A study of few Absolut vodka ads through the semiotic lens
 

Absolut Hardwork - A study of few Absolut vodka ads through the semiotic lens

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This document comprises an indicative study of different Absolut vodka print advertisements, experienced through the lens of semiotic studies

This document comprises an indicative study of different Absolut vodka print advertisements, experienced through the lens of semiotic studies

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    Absolut Hardwork -  A study of few Absolut vodka ads through the semiotic lens Absolut Hardwork - A study of few Absolut vodka ads through the semiotic lens Document Transcript

    • MUDRA INSTITUTE OF COMMUNICATION, AHMEDABAD Absolut HardWork An analysis of Absolut vodka ads through the Semiotic lens Ranajay Sengupta
    • Contents Abstract: ...................................................................................................................................................................3 Analysis of the Ads....................................................................................................................................................4 Product Theme .....................................................................................................................................................4 Absolut Piercing................................................................................................................................................4 Objects Theme:.....................................................................................................................................................5 Absolut Tradition:.............................................................................................................................................5 Theme – Cities: .....................................................................................................................................................6 Absolut Las Vegas.............................................................................................................................................6 Theme – Lesbians and Gays:.................................................................................................................................7 Absolut No Labels.............................................................................................................................................7 Absolut OUTrageous.........................................................................................................................................8 Conclusion: ...............................................................................................................................................................9 References:...............................................................................................................................................................9
    • Abstract: Absolut Vodka’s advertising campaign has been in operation since 1981. 30 years and still going strong, Absolut has definitely left an indelible mark on the advertising world. Industry insiders acknowledge it as one of the most effective campaigns ever in the history of advertising. It is a rarity to discover any communication which prioritizes on the visual appeal over the copy. Absolut Vodka is an apt example. The eye catcher in almost all its ads is always the beautiful, artful, chameleon-like Swedish bottle. It derives its brilliance from the fact that the focus is always on the visual. The Absolut ads are not mere ads, they form the epitome of ingenuity and longevity expected from every ad, but one is rarely able to deliver so. The ads are imaginative, artistic and full of subtle and witty symbols and codes which efficiently communicate the brand ethos. The symbols and metaphors used in the communication might perplex the viewer at times but it is certain that understanding such ads will satisfy the intellectual thirst of the viewers. During the course of this analysis we will analyze the visual communication techniques used in the Absolut ads, over the years, through the filter of Semiotics and will try to understand the different thematic used by the brand, such as the Sexuality, Art, Festivals, Cities etc. and try to understand how different brand associations are created by using these communications.
    • Analysis of the Ads Product Theme: These are some of the simplest ads of brand, ‘Absolut’. As mentioned earlier, the focus is entirely on the glass bottle in a conscious attempt to prioritize the product over the copy. Absolut Piercing Discourse: To acknowledge the punk and LGBT subculture and embracing the community members, back in the later part of ‘60s. Signifier: The piercing on the bottle acts as a signifier symbolizing the gay and punk subculture that was becoming a rage in America in the ‘60s. The ad was released during the same time. Piercings were also a symbol of non conformist fashion and style statement back in the ‘60s. Piercings, which in certain cultures can also be interpreted as an attempt to utilize the human body as a canvas to express the creative freedom as against the prevalent social norms, mostly as an anarchic symbol. Signified: The ad can be seen as a motivation to express the creative freedom withholding nothing that can act as a deterrent. This ad tries to provide the feeling of breaking away from the gips of societal norms and rules of the establishment. The kind of lighting used in the visual resembles the lime-light to certain extent, and urges everyone to summon their inner creators. The bottle, in this case, no longer remains a mere bottle, but it becomes a metaphor for the human body. As a subtext, this communication attempts to recognize people who believe in using their body as a canvas for experimentation. The posture and the
    • body language denoted by the bottle draws a direct association with the upright human posture, which further elucidates the assertiveness required for being able to stand up tall and make a statement to the world. Subtext: The upright body language of the bottle shown in the visual depicts the efforts made by the brand to no longer keep it restricted to vodka and vodka drinking but to become relevant and iconic for the members of the LGBT and Punk community. It was the brand’s vision to provide an acknowledgement and voice to the communities who were often seen as social and cultural outcasts The color coding of a black background dramatizes the way they have emerged. Gay as a phenomenon isn’t new to the world & has been in existence since ancient times. The black background shows how these people may have actually come out from the darkness or the shadows which they were hiding behind to an open platform into the limelight. They can now assert their sexual preferences. Objects Theme: This section consists of the Absolut bottle too but with a different perspective. Here the Absolut bottle is comprised of things that we come across in our daily lives. The driving point is to choose objects of various shapes and sizes to resemble an Absolut bottle, thus giving a sense of Absolut as a way of life. Absolut Tradition:
    • Discourse: To include Absolut vodka in the tradition of Christmas celebration Signifier: Every symbol used in this ad is iconic in its own merit. The Christmas tree, presence of gifts, hearth, the overall warm feeling in the visual etc. are easily identifiable with the celebration of Christmas. The hearth, specially, is a significant symbol among the others as it signifies home, safety and warmth The silhouette resembling the Absolut bottle made by the toy train also adds to the concept of Christmas, with its subtle points out the existence of the myth of the polar express Signified: This communication, unlike the other ones discussed throughout this analysis, uses visuals of items that are clichéd in terms of Christmas celebration. But, this can be seen as a calculated, diplomatic effort to become one of the icons associated with the idea of Christmas The setting of a typical urban, middle class American home can be viewed as a subtle effort by Absolut to become a part of every American families’ Christmas celebration tradition The toy train track produces an imagery of gift and the tradition of gifting, which can be interpreted as an effort to become a part of Christmas gifting tradition Theme – Cities: These Absolut ads are part of a series that tries to capture the DNA of a particular city Absolut Las Vegas
    • Discourse: Breaking away from the Sin City image and introduce the world to a new facet of Las Vegas Signifier: The Absolut bottle, the body of which is formed by the Shrimps and the cap is formed using the visual of the accompanying sauce The background of the water body Signified: This communication tries to bring out a different facet of what is otherwise known as the casino city and strengthens the food connection of Las Vegas. In this particular attempt, this ad is clutter breaking in the sense that it helped to break the clichéd visual imagery associated with Las Vegas. This also draws a connection between food and drink (preferably Vodka, even preferably Absolut). This helped the brand to promote the message of nibbling something along with the glass of vodka, as the true connoisseurs would have preferred. The imagery of the exotic looking shrimps brings out the sense of indulgence attached with the city and which not necessarily need to be about casinos with no windows and no clocks. The water body in the background serves the dual purpose of exemplifying the sense of sea and hence seafood (shrimps) and builds up the Russian connotation of vodka, which literally means ‘little water’ The brand, very cleverly and subtly have infused some newness in the clichéd identity of Las Vegas and changed the perception of vodka from a drink to an aperitif, may be even as a necessary companion with exotic food. Theme – Lesbians and Gays: These sets of campaigns were created to communicate the brand’s ideologies towards the LGBT community. Absolut No Labels
    • Discourse: To demonstrate the brands disbelief in labeling people based on gender and sexuality Signifier: Naked bottle of Absolut (identified by its shape and size) The copy “IN AN ABSOLUT WORLD: There are no labels” Signified: This ad promotes the idea of “it’s the inside that matters” The bottle visual manifests the belief of diversity and the promotes the brand’s standpoint on sexual identity Usage of two different fonts in the body text signifies the breaking away from the prevalent sense of conforming to a particular standard Absolut OUTrageous Discourse: To celebrate the diversity of gender and accept the sexual identity of the members of the LGBT community Signifier: Presence of the word ‘OUT’ Usage of the color pink Ecstatic usage of colors The presence of the rainbow Signified: Presence of the word OUT signifies the liberal, tolerant and gay friendly image of the brand The body copy promotes the message of gay pride and gay rights Creating awareness about a distinct sexual identity Details like the rainbow and usage of colors signifies the brand’s intention of advocating and sponsoring the LGBT community
    • Conclusion: The Absolut vodka campaigns, over the years, have been one of the biggest ideas in the ad industry. The very fact that it is able to withstand the test of time for over 30 years and still showing no signs of ageing or not being relevant, emphasizes the creative and marketing genius that is known as the Absolut brand. While reflecting on the Absolut ads from different background, theme and time- periods, it is overtly noticeable that the brand semiotics has changed over a period of time. While during the initial years it represented an individual and the world surrounding the individual, currently it has transgressed more towards representing the world around us and the people in it. This is nothing short of Absolut Brilliance. The Swedish vodka brand, which started off as everything that is America, is now more about the world, with its reach expanding globally. It is not any more about the story of an individual identity and the related belongingness, but more to do with the contemporary world, its problems and our perception about its future, and from the transgression noticed in the Absolut brand communications, we can safely claim that the world of today, is certainly much beyond just America. References: Absolut Book- Richard W. Lewis http://home.swipnet.se/~w-33318/websolut/history.htm http://www.absolutads.com/gallery/reklama.php?id=429