Why is Absolut Selling Art to Millennials Online?

The original bottles that Warhol designed for the Absolut Warhol campaign in 1986 Photo: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
The original bottles that Warhol designed for the Absolut Warhol campaign in 1986 Photo: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

absolut

Art lovers may recall the days when artists such as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol designed images for Absolut Vodka, which bills itself as the “leading brand of premium vodka” worldwide. But it seems that the vodka brand is no longer content with being a patron of hip artists; instead, it is turning its attention to the world of online art acquisition, with the hope that their name will appeal to those who presumably enjoy both vodka and affordable works of art.

The brand is known for its limited edition bottle collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation, and artists such as New Museum triennialist Nadim Abbas as well as artist Mickalene Thomas have created special Absolut “Art Bars” for Art Basel in Hong Kong 2014 and Basel 2013, respectively.

The brand even has an Absolut Art Award that “acknowledges the activities of the most exciting visionaries of our time,” according to the website, where the potential winner could receive €120,000 to complete a new project.
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Now, Absolut is taking the next logical step to further their place in the art industry by creating a website, Absolut Art—”an independent extension” of Absolut—where they sell editions of photographs that go for $200 to $3,300. Looking into one “art scene” at a time, the website is currently selling only artists from Stockholm. You’ll find photographs of lived in spaces, portraits of young pretty things, landscape shots, and abstract collages by relatively unknown local artists.

We have to say, it’s a little strange to see a vodka brand selling art. After all, in an interview with Marketing Magazine, the digital creative business director of Absolut frankly refers to the product as “a static piece of glass with wet goods inside.”

But perhaps that’s why they’ve hired Nahema Mehta as the site’s director for growth and innovation. The Sotheby’s Institute of Art graduate previously started her own internet art start-up, Art Remba, a members only web-club where users could rent art with a $50 monthly subscription. Although a number of publications covered the service, the company is no longer in operation.

Will this new online platform open the door to more millennials to buy art? Currently that’s what companies such as Artsy, Artspace and Paddle8 are betting on. But judging from the brand’s main Absolut website, where we see them blogging about night life and Coachella, the vodka brand’s customer is less concerned about what’s going on in the art world and more concerned with how to have fun in it.


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