Ogilvy nabs Absolut global creative account from BBH

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Getty Images

The creative agency will lead global strategic and creative duties for the Pernod Ricard brand.

Absolut Vodka said Friday it has selected Ogilvy to become its global lead creative agency, ending a four year relationship with BBH.

Ogilvy will lead global strategic and creative duties for the brand in leading markets, “with the ambition to accelerate its leadership position,” Absolut said in a press release.

“Absolut has an incredible legacy of creating extraordinary and unexpected communications, of being a cultural provocateur,” said Tad Greenough, global chief creative officer at Absolut. “As the brand continues to see tremendous momentum globally, we wanted a network partner that can deliver the strategic and creative excellence that Ogilvy has demonstrated time and time again.” 

Ogilvy won the business in a “competitive pitch” led by London-based pitch consultant Observatory International, the release said. The agency beat out agencies including Wieden + Kennedy and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, according to a source close to the pitch.

BBH, which had held the account since 2016, declined to participate in the pitch.

"The Absolut team have undergone an organizational change that led them to put the business up for pitch to service their new structure," said Adam Arnold, CMO at BBH, in an email. "We declined to participate. We are very proud of the work we developed together over the last four and a half years. We wish the team and Ogilvy all the very best. Absolut is a brand we will always love dearly."

Charl Bassil, global VP of marketing for Absolut, added that the win is “a signal of our intent to work alongside our global markets in a more coordinated and integrated manner, while continuing to tap into locally relevant consumer insights.”

The win adds to Ogilvy’s remit with Pernod Ricard, after winning creative duties in the U.S. for Olmeca Altos Tequila, Tequila Avión, and Del Maguey. 

“Ogilvy is proud to be chosen by Absolut, a globally iconic brand, to be their creative partner for growth,” said Andy Main, global CEO of Ogilvy, in a statement. “We admire Absolut’s strong heritage of using creativity to drive meaningful connections and influence culture. Our team is excited to use the borderless creativity of Ogilvy’s global network to deliver the innovative work that will win the attention of people around the world.” 

Absolut is known for its progressive-leaning campaigns, from long running “drink responsibly” PSAs to a 2020 Valentine’s Day campaign that asked drinkers to “sex responsibly.” 

The brand, which has been around since 1879, has sparked interest from iconic designers and artists including Andy Warhol, Stella McCartney and Tom Ford. 

Choosing Ogilvy is a commitment to the agency model for creative, Bassil added. Although Pernod Ricard has a hybrid in-house model for media buying.

“At The Absolut Company, we fundamentally believe that agency partnerships are more effective than transactional supplier relationships,” he said in a statement. “We know that through genuine partnership, we are able to build open, transparent relationships that include a shared view of success and shared accountability. 

Ultimately Absolut has been built on the idea that we can create better together. With that in mind, we believe we have found the right partner in Ogilvy.”

Pernod Ricard spent $23 million on media in the U.S. last year, per Kantar. The global account is worth $1.5 billion, per Statista.

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