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M&C Saatchi is on song with its progressive Absolute Choir

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By The Drum | Editorial

December 4, 2023 | 8 min read

Vodka brand Absolut set out to position itself at the forefront of progressive culture and in partnership with M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment brought together diverse change-makers to create the Absolut Choir. The inititive collected the PR and the Celebrity or Influencer Partnership awards at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the campaign work

Absolut believes we’re Born to Mix: whether it’s drinks, ideas, or people, life is more interesting when we mix things up. As part of their mission to become the global spirit of positive change, our brief was to prove that mixing has the power to drive progress. Our campaign needed to bring Absolut to the forefront of progressive culture, with an idea that set social alight, grabbed headlines, and raised awareness of issues important to 18 – 34-year-old spirit drinkers in the UK.

Our research told us these individuals are driven by experiences that drive connection and community, and that they were louder about the causes they cared about. But even the loudest voices in underrepresented groups can be drowned out by the mainstream.

As negative stories dominated headlines, and in particular targeted vulnerable groups, including but not limited to the trans community, we saw an opportunity to use Born to Mix as an act of joyful disruption, sharing the joy of being different, being together and being heard.

We identified 15 changemakers who were already using their voices to drive positive change but needed a bigger platform from which to drive greater societal progress. As a brand that’s supported the queer community since the 1980s, Absolut was in a position to once again give them a platform, this time bringing diverse changemakers together and raising their voices through media spend and channel support.

Our idea was born when we recognized how powerful a choir could be as a platform to raise the volume on issues our audience cared about, with a top-tier music talent bolstering the reach of our campaign. So, amongst negative and scaremongering headlines, we used music as a powerful creative tool for amplification and making queer voices heard.

Olly Alexander of Years & Years was the perfect frontman as someone who matched the same progressive values as Absolut and used their platform to hero the under-represented.

We delivered a 3-week TLT campaign across multiple channels with various consumer touchpoints. Starting with strong storytelling assets to drive shareability and media interest, which included a 30-second and 2-minute film that brought to life the power of mixing and encouraged viewers to get behind the changemakers, which was viewed by over 705.9K individuals.

We used the popular track 'Shine' and re-recorded a never-heard-before choral arrangement, allowing us to tap into Olly’s fanbase with news. The 30-second film aimed to capture viewers, while the longer-length film delved into each changemaker’s personal stories giving them a true platform to be heard. The simple CTA was ‘share to make us louder’. Absolut put media spend behind the assets to spread the noise. We pushed this out alongside photography of Olly Alexander and our choir members.

Olly also designed a limited-edition bottle wrap which explored what Born to Mix meant to him. It became a key asset for building brand association, delivering Born to Mix in another creative way, securing a global opportunity and creating a long-term partnership between Olly and the brand. 600 bottles of the limited-edition wrap were available from November. By the end of December over 78% had been sold (470 bottles).

The launch was followed by a paid media partnership with LadBible, chosen as a social-first media partner that allowed us to reach new audiences. This partnership achieved 13 million impressions and 7.72 million reach.

48hr digital billboard spaces were another means of elevating the Absolut Choir and spreading their voices across London. We handed over the billboards to each changemaker to choose what they wanted to say, making sure we were amplifying their authentic voices.

To disrupt the clickbait of a manufactured queer culture war, The Absolut Choir offered lifestyle media titles a positive story to raise the volume on queer joy. Olly unlocked mainstream coverage with exclusive interviews and the Choir members were spokespeople on topics such as politics, fashion, and mental health.

The campaign was deliberately framed around key cultural moments which enabled us to tap into conversations around mental health, Black History Month and Trans Awareness Week, and further generate press interest to create as much conversation as possible. This resulted in 38 pieces of editorial coverage, of which 96% included key messaging and imagery with a 1.2 billion earned media reach.

We celebrated the campaign with a live performance and panel of The Absolut Choir with Olly Alexander. The public were able to win tickets to the event via a social competition on Olly’s Twitter profile. Here we leveraged Olly’s significant social profile to drive buzz for Absolut as well as drive support for each member of The Choir, who went on to surprise the live audience with another Years & Years cover (‘Eyes Wide Shut’) and original music from Trans Voices.

The campaign put Absolut at the heart of progressive culture and increased brand consideration and purchase amongst 18-34 year old spirit drinkers, with +9% Sales, 2pts Consideration, +2pts Awareness and an outstanding +8pp now see Absolut as a brand with a progressive attitude.

Throughout the campaign our changemakers shared over 545 organic social posts with a reach of over 20.3 million. Through amplifying their voices on various channels, we increased their social following by +56.72%, and have also unlocked personal and lucrative brand opportunities for each of our changemakers as we continue to raise their volume post campaign.

Across all channels we positively drove brand metrics, delivering 66% social buzz during the campaign, 70.5% share of voice, 79.3% share of engagement and ensured #borntomix was the most associated hashtag at 34.4%.

This year at Mighty Hoopla as a surprise Olly Alexander brought out The Absolut Choir onto the stage to perform with him during his headline set, an organic and genuine moment of the Absolut Choir continuing to live on.

Here’s what our changemakers had to say:

“I have worked in this industry for a while and can genuinely say this has been one of the most diverse productions I have ever been involved in, from the crew to the people both in front of and behind the camera, it’s good to feel like things are changing. I’m so lucky to have a platform for my voice and I want to use it to put the spotlight on people and things that need to be heard. We are literally here to amplify people’s voices and I can’t wait to see what else is to come from these incredible people.” - Olly Alexander

“I treasure the spaces that were created and the moments that we all shared being ourselves and supporting one another to be our best selves.” - Trans Creative Collective

“I'm incredibly grateful for the entire team both sides of the camera who put unapologetic queer joy front and centre throughout this entire project.” - Coda, Trans Voices

“Thank you for letting us use our voices and creating a space where we could talk honestly.” - Sian Lord

“It’s all worth it when you actually see the change you're advocating for happen.” - Kenny Ethan Jones

“To use my voice to sing and advocate rather than to speak was healing for me. When we mix, we get such a beautiful outcome. Thank you for creating a safe space for my voice to be heard.” - Nyome Nicholas-Williams

We have proven that there’s nothing more powerful than a group of voices coming together. Celebrating all of our differences in both queer and popular culture has shown how being Born to Mix can bring about more conversation, more action and most importantly, more change.

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