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Absolut Vodka in 4 million designed bottles

Pernod Ricard Travel Retail has launched Absolut Unique throughout the global duty free/travel retail market – a spectacular limited edition of around four million individually designed and numbered colourful and vibrant bottles of Absolut Vodka.

The unique designs were executed by glass manufacturer Ardagh in Limmared, Sweden.

Following the launch in the travel retail market, the bottles will become available in domestic markets starting in October.

“This is a truly daring, cutting edge concept that takes our Absolut creative and innovative heritage into a new dimension,” says Anders Olsson, director of The Absolut Company Global Travel Retail.

To create four million individually designed bottles, The brand had to re-invent its entire production line. The production process involved a complex interaction of human and mechanical elements, and a carefully orchestrated randomness.

Splash guns and colour-generating machines were applied and complex coating, pattern and placement algorithms were programmed to ensure that no two bottles would be alike. Thirty-eight different colours and 51 pattern types were applied to the bottles. The striking appearance of each bottle was achieved through a radical range of colours contrasting with the white, matt paper label featuring the bottle’s individual number.

“The result widely exceeded our expectations,” says Anders Olsson. “When the first bottles appeared on the conveyer line, we cheered. By that time, the production line already looked more like an artist’s studio than a bottle factory. Absolut Unique feels a bit `mad scientist´, a bit street art, but at the same time very elegant.”

For Ardagh’s team at the glass plant the success of the project can be regarded as one of the innovation high points in its long-standing relationship with Absolut, stretching the creative and technical ingenuity of both teams and their suppliers to the extreme, and capitalising on their close working relationship.
The development team soon realised the extreme challenge of the project brief namely the need to adapt a decoration process that had been engineered  to minimise design  variation into something that needed to deliver the exact opposite.
Fredrik Källqvist, development manager glass Sweden & Denmark at Ardagh Group explains: “After a few meetings and brain storming sessions we developed a computerised valve and control system to automatically and continually change colours and spray patterns on the bottles. We also came up with a system to randomly add contrasting "colour splashes" to the bottles during the coating process.
“We further introduced  new functionality  on the screen printing machine for randomising the print start for each printing station in the machine. We also created a screen and colour changing scheme for the screen printing process balancing variation and productivity, and established systems to mix the bottles during and in between the process steps to further increase variation."

The Absolut Unique launch is backed by a 360-degree marketing campaign in all available media. Regional activations in the duty free/travel retail market worldwide include giant, impactful in-store brand installations, tastings of new cocktails, uniformed expert ambassadors and demonstrations of mixology and the production process to consumers on screens, tablets and other devices.




1 September 2012 - Felicity Murray