Absolut Caterpillar

It’s a jungle out there. Illusionists are everywhere.

And evolution is a marvelous thing. Imagine its 1980 and you are a rather plain vodka from Sweden, marketed in a simple, colorless, apothecary shaped bottle, and you want to get noticed. You begin to build on the few equities you have, and create over time a kaleidoscope of communications, with diverse, bright, colorful, memorable, images based on this simple bottle shape.

Over the course of 3 decades, with the success of this campaign, you evolve the brand from a simple little vodka to a marvelous colorful butterfly. You build the volume in that time from 90,000 liters to 96 million liters, a 1,000% increase, becoming the number three spirits brand in the world. Survival of the . . .

Apparently its not so different in the real jungle.

Now imagine you are a rather plain little caterpillar, sitting on the edge of a tree branch, and interested in scaring the heck out of foraging birds. You also might try illusion, perhaps trying to look more like a snake ready to pounce, and less like a tiny caterpillar.

I saw these images of caterpillars, by Daniel Janzen in a NY Times piece written by Sean Carroll, and they struck me as the natural equivalent of the Absolut campaign. Both the vodka and the caterpillar were once modest little creatures and through evolution have become rich colorful illusions.

In the interest of full disclosure, we work with Pernod Ricard, but not on this brand.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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