Following my 'Sneaky Peek' post last week, I can now reveal a project I've been working on for a while: 'My Absolut - What the Bartender Saw'. Absolut Vodka was introduced to the global market in 1979 and thanks to some astute marketing moves by the likes of Michel Roux (no, not that one) and Oliver Peyton it pioneered the concept of the 'Premium Spirit Brand'. It's iconic bottle helped capture the imagination of artists such as Keith Haring and the teetotal Andy Warhol who produced advert artworks for the brand. This was the beginning of a rich cultural history for the product.
'My Absolut - What the Bartender Saw' is a series of events and communications produced and organised by the brand aimed at educating the latest generation of bartenders about the products heritage. The 96 page hardback book designed by myself is supported by a series of short films shot and produced by Christian Banfield at SchmickTV. Both heavily feature the thoughts and recollections of respected and lauded bartenders such as Dick Bradsell and Dale DeGroff, who experienced the effect that the brand had on the drinks industry throughout its heyday in the eighties and early nineties.
The concept for the project was the brainchild of Absolut’s Senior Manager for the Global On Premise Strategy, Miranda Dickson. As part of getting the bartenders in the correct mindset for reminiscing about the brand, Miranda asked each of them to be interviewed and photographed dressed as their idol from the period. After all, where else would you expect to see Gaz Regan as Ziggy Stardust or Robbie Bargh as Adam Ant? Absolutly...
The photography, by Phil Barton of Laurence Hudghton Photography and the filming was all done on location in New York and London. Indeed an early working title for the project was ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ with the research for the book being undertaken by Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller of Mixellany Ltd.
The design of the book meanwhile presented a particular challenge for me as the brief demanded an informal interwoven scrapbook of personal memories to be presented in a premium, but not too corporate style. The brief was further complicated by the design having to adhere to a fairly rigorous set of Absolut brand guidelines whilst striving to achieve a fresh, contemporary look and feel.
Key to the Absolut brand’s guidelines is the concept of contrast. Nowhere is this more evident in the final product than between the cover which is completely black, save for a mysterious eye peering through an Absolut bottle shaped key hole and the end papers which offer the light relief of doodle style illustrations of New York and London. Whilst the outer cover of the book is matt laminated, the keyhole plate is finished with a raised effect spot UV. The main content for the book, printed on 160gsm uncoated stock, consists of recollections, photographs and recipes. This is all presented on a suitably fluid two column grid, interspersed with hand written quotes and a cut and pasted visual quality.
Finally I'd like to say a big thank you to all who helped me out during this project, chiefly Andy and Simon at Smiling Wolf for helping oversee the fantastic print job but also Jenni, Lynda, Ian Annie and Katie for taking care of the girls whilst I was either away travelling or working through the night to get the job finished!
This article also features on Creative Match.