The Deconstructed Brief



Brand: Absolut Vodka
Agency: 360i


The way people view a healthy diet may vary around the world, but one thing is certain: Simplicity resonates globally. Governmental regulation, combined with mounting scientific evidence, has convinced consumers to reduce their sugar intake. In fact, over half (57%) of consumers report that low-sugar serves as an important factor for deciding what to buy for their households.

While CPG companies have rushed to add products with no added sugar to their portfolios, the hard liquor category has struggled to respond. But, in a category with a typically less-than-healthy reputation, how can Absolut change the perceptions of consumers and take advantage of the growing interest in lower sugar?

The idea:

The answer? Tell it like it is. Absolut Vodka’s new campaign injects more honesty and less sugarcoating to promote its new grapefruit-flavored vodka, offering a naturally sweet flavor — with zero added sugar.

The series features a mix of 10- and 30-second spots showcasing “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson singing through the sugarcoating with humorous responses that tell it like it is. The transparent wordplay in the campaign ties together the blunt statement of no sugarcoating “no sugar added,” and the literal meaning of “no sugarcoating” — “nothing to hide.”

Each of the seven short form videos features a different #NoSugarCoating theme during occasions authentic to enjoying Absolut Grapefruit, including dinner parties, trivia night, happy hour, brunch and more.

The #NoSugarCoating campaign is supported by cross-channel marketing efforts — designed to attract the brand’s Millennial target — with its main focus on social platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Connected TV. Since the successful launch of Absolut Lime in 2016, Absolut Grapefruit is the brand's biggest innovation and has over 19,000 #NoSugarCoating posts on Instagram.

Key insight

The secret to better vodka: no secrets

What they said:

"The #NoSugarCoating campaign is a tongue-in-cheek reminder that sugarcoating usually comes with a hidden truth, and we want consumers to know exactly what they're getting with every new addition to the Absolut portfolio. With Absolut Grapefruit, that means a beautifully bright, grapefruit-flavored vodka with sweet notes and zero sugar,” said Regan Clarke, Brand Director, Absolut, Pernod Ricard USA.


Lessons to be learned:

  • Intentional formatting — When you market a product to Millennials, you're going to have to make it quick. According to comScore, online ads targeted toward Millennials have to be around 5 to 6 seconds to be effective, a sharp contrast from the traditional 30-second commercial seen on TV. With the series featuring a short mix of spots, Absolut can easily attract its target.

  • Matched values — Picking your celebrity spokesperson can make or break your campaign. For Absolut, choosing Ferguson, an LGBTQ-rights advocate known for his Emmy-nominated role on the sitcom “Modern Family,” was spot on. With Absolut ranking as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly brands, this decision can help resonate with consumers who are expecting brands to feature more diversity in their ads.

  • Shareable content — Similar to the length, the platforms of choice are also important to Absolut’s Millenial target. For brands and advertisers, getting people to share content can help spread their marketing message organically. And, with 71 percent of consumers watching videos on social media to laugh, Absolut can leverage humor to drive viral sharing of its campaign on social media.