The Allure: Absolut | Chicago Bus Shelters

Absolut | Chicago Bus Shelter campaign

an ad review by Joshua P. Ferguson

Absolut Vodka and its long-standing advertising agency TBWA have always done some of the best work around. I remember friends who, in their early teens, collected page after magazine page of ads riffing on the iconic shape of the Absolut bottle and tiled them up all over their bedroom walls. Their repute has inspired coffee table books, fan sites and product offshoots. The duration and popularity of this strategic partnership is such that Absolut doesn't even have to make claims about the quality of its product to help bolster sales. And let's be honest, there are better vodkas out there.

A campaign with a new twist popped up earlier this year. It introduced famous actresses stylized to embody a bygone era—fashion and decor—to help promote specific cocktails: the Bloody, the Twist, the Cosmo and the Lemon Drop. The stars are Kate Beckinsale, Zooey Deschanel and Ali Larter, respectively (Beckinsale appears in two). 

These originally started popping up as  2D bus ads and in magazines (a few even ended up in Time Out). Larter's Lemon Drop campaign was also expanded into a '70s action-exploit mini-movie co-starring Martin Cove (the awesome, evil Sensei from The Karate Kid) and directed by the film-making collective Traktor. In a nutshell, Johnny Thunderbird (Cove), a singer and sleazy kitten thief inspires the wrath of Lemon Drop (Larter), a sweet valley girl-turned-bad-ass kitten rescuer. See, Thunderbird has been "stealing kittens voices to achieve perfect crooner's pitch, the voice of an angel," Larter discovers. She then seduces, beats at tennis, seduces and beats up Thunderbird, regains the kittens and blows up his house (in that order) with ample bad lines and grainy drive thru clicks and pops.

Sometime last week, the campaign added a 3rd dimension by decking out Chicagoland bus shelters with chairs, psychedelic and gothic wallpaper and in the case of the Lemon Drop stop, foliage. Discussing it with a coworker, we did agree that the sight of an impoverished person waiting for the bus in a Saarinen pedestal chair with Ali Larter looking all sexy in the background is a bit depressing, but taken as pure advertising pop art, these things are pretty sweet. Check 'em:

The above campaigns were all conceived by TBWA, creative director Mark Figliulo with art direction from Jin Park. The photos come courtesy of famed erotic photographer Ellen Von Unwerth, who helped give everyone from Claudia Schiffer to Emma Watson a naughty twist, and actress-turned-photographer Amanda De Cadenet. (And thanks to the Inspiration Room for the bus stop photos).

Just for fun, here's the Ali Larter movie:



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