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Absolut: Biography of a Bottle Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Texere; 1 edition (April 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587991373
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587991370
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,676,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Gunnar Broman, head of Sweden's top ad agency, traveled to New York in 1978 to sell his distinguished counterparts at N.W. Ayer on a locally produced vodka that didn't yet exist. The very idea of Swedish vodka was an oxymoron at the time, anyway, for everyone knew back then that real vodka came exclusively from Russia. Sweden had been distilling the beverage since 1467, though, and Broman had a briefcase full of ideas with him on the trip for pushing a soon-to-be-developed version in the U.S. He brought plenty of slides along to illustrate them, and even had several solid plastic bottles made up to demonstrate exactly how they would look on store shelves. One, in particular, captured the New Yorkers' attention: a plump vessel with "no label, no decorations, and no neck." Etched on its otherwise totally clear container, in pure silver, was the legend "Pure Absolut Vodka." Someone joked that it looked like a sterile medicine bottle, but the Americans' interest was piqued. And, with it, Absolut Vodka was on its way. Absolut, by Swedish writer, TV host, and political commentator Carl Hamilton, is the story of the now widely popular alcoholic beverage--housed in what became the liquor industry's most well known bottle--and how it came to conquer the States. It's a captivating and well-told tale of a bold business proposition that grew into a serious cultural phenomenon. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Informative and entertaining. -- Nils Schwartz, Expressen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!
Frank Voehl
You will love the many photographs of the bottles and advertising while they were under development, including the famous Andy Warhol ad.
Donald Mitchell
If you've ever worked at an advertising agency or with one, or if you just like Vodka -- read this book!
Elizabeth Talerman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Hamilton has written a thorough, fascinating account of how one of the most popular brands in the United States was established in the last 22 years. This book is a must read for anyone who has enjoyed the famous Absolut advertising campaign featuring the bottle shape, and those who want to understand more about the process of successful brand building.
I was an executive at Heublein, makers of market-leading Smirnoff Vodka, from 1974-1977, and found this story fascinating for how overwhelming odds against success were overcome. In this review, I will add some perspective that the author omitted.
Liquor is one of the most difficult areas in which to create a new consumer brand. The hurdles are many. You cannot advertise on television or radio. Most people are not very experimental in the liquor they will try. You cannot go door-to-door dropping off samples like soap powder. Distribution is very expensive and hard to acquire. Establishing profitability with a new brand can take many years, and there are many failures. As a result, the market leader in most categories in 1950 is still the market leading brand today. For imported spirits, the country viewed as the most "legitimate" historical source always dominated the imported category. For vodka, what country do you think of? Certainly, Sweden was probably not first in your mind in 1978.
Absolut was brilliantly developed, but Absolut was also lucky. As the Cold War continued and the Afghanistan War began, Americans had reason to question their ties to Stolychnaya, which had been the leading vodka import. President Reagan's characterization of the U.S.S.R. as an "evil empire" certainly aided that perceptual shift.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Roger E. Herman on November 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The advertising campaign for ABSOLUT Swedish vodka has captured the attention of millions. The promotional program for the product has been highly creative, captivating, and unquestionably successful. Now ranked as the #1 imported vodka in the United States, ABSOLUT is celebrating its 20 year anniversary.
The story behind the bottle, the product, and the marketing campaign is interesting, as might be expected. Most behind-the-scenes looks produce surprises, intrigue, and stories that cause readers to shake their heads in wonderment. ABSOLUT is no exception.
Carl Hamilton is described as one of Sweden's most provocative and original literary voices. He's also host of the critically acclaimed television show, Dilemma, a political commentator, and a columnist for Scandinavia's largest popular newspaper. With this build-up of the author, the reader would expect an intriguing book that would be a joy to read. Even the cover of the book is designed to reflect the advertising image of black and white simplicity.
The book does tell a good story-about the bottle, the name, the development of the product, and the marketing campaign. Unfortunately, I was not as impressed by the book itself as I wanted to be. I was disappointed. While I recognize that the book will sell because of the popularity of the product it chronicles, the writing left me wanting.
Describing this book as a biography suggests a certain amount of genealogical research to illuminate the subject of the work. As family trees are researched, people uncover branches that really don't fit into the mainstream of the family's development. These side stories are typically left out of books that document family histories, or they're archived outside the main text.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Liz Paley on October 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The story of the Absolut advertising campaign has been well-documented but the story behind the creation of the product that led to the campaign hasn't been told...until now.
Within advertising and marketing circles, the Absolut ad campaign is to the 80's and 90's what the VW Beetle campaign was to the 60's...everyone working in advertising at the time claims credit. With the discipline and integrity of a good journalist, Carl Hamilton digs up the facts and presents them in a highly compelling way.
Buy it for anyone in advertising, anyone in marketing, anyone who's ever taken credit for a stolen idea, or anyone who's planning a trip to Sweden!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By a_roxburgh on July 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I didn't have a clear idea of what I expected "Absolut: the biography of a bottle" to be, perhaps an insight into one of the most interesting and sustained advertising campaigns around, but this meandering tale wasn't it.
Mr Hamilton wanders all over the place - we have a detailed, if sometimes incoherent, account of the history of Swedish State Wine and Liquor Monopoly and the Swedish Liquor Pass (Sweden's attempt to manage alcohol abuse), interspersed with a lot of detail about bit players in the Absolut story. They come in, have an incident of their lives minutely described, then exit stage left without having significantly contributed to the narrative.
Every now and then an interesting comparison is drawn between Swedish and American social policy, or marketing approaches, but these do not seem to have been inserted for any particular reason. Certainly there is no shortage of information about the bottle and label design. The most interesting thing I learned was that the company favours using photos "with a minimum of post-session computer manipulation" - I had though a lot of manipulation would have been employed.
If the intent of this book is to demonstrate that advertisers may need to create several platforms or approaches to marketing a product, and that designers need to develop different versions of packaging, it was successful - though this end could have been achieved in a more succinct format. If, however, the idea was to attract a mass audience to appreciate the campaign, or the difficulty breaking into an established (and apparently niche) market, Mr Hamilton had better hope for readers with stamina.
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