Art has always been “in the DNA” of Absolut, one of the best-known spirits brands in the world. To promote contemporary art and support artists around the world, the vodka brand has taken part in numerous collaborative projects, including its famous work with Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
This time, Pernod Ricard Korea, which represents the vodka in South Korea, has taken a step further with its iconic brand by connecting technology and art in an effort to tackle air pollution, which has become an especially serious concern here in recent years.
Presenting the “Absolut Eco Street Art Project,” Pernod Ricard Korea President and CEO Jean Touboul said its goal was to encourage optimism in people, and that with technology and with efforts from individuals, these issues can be tackled.
“One thing I want them (consumers, authorities and businesses) to have is optimism. Through not only the act of environment-friendly behaviors, but also by using technology, we want to show people and create a movement that it is possible to address this issue,” Touboul said in an interview with The Korea Herald on July 6, the day the project opened.
Collaborating with Korean abstract graffiti artist Xeva, the company set up a colorful 9-meter structure in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, by stacking containers on top of each other. On the installation, the artist created a graphic design titled “The Breathing City” to depict the city’s natural areas alongside its grayness.
What is special about the structure is that the artist used Airlite, an environment-friendly paint from Italy, which Pernod Ricard Korea introduced to the country for the first time.
According to the company, the paint creates anions when exposed to sunlight and permanently transforms air pollutants into water-soluble mineral salts that are harmless to humans and the environment.
The 320 square meters of Airlite paint used to make the Absolut Eco Street Art project can eliminate the equivalent of the exhaust emitted by 20,000 diesel cars per year, Touboul explained.
For Pernod Ricard Korea, the Absolut Eco Street Art project is different from past projects because it links the technology-based material with art and uses both to come up with a solution to a social issue, the president said, adding that it was the first such project in Korea.
“I believe that this is part of our mission, our responsibility as a business, to give back to society. And if other brands and businesses want to join the movement, that’d be more impactful,” Touboul said.
The French president, who has led the company’s Korea office for over four years now, said Korea’s drinking culture was changing steadily, especially among younger people.
“Home consumption of alcohol, or what we call ‘hometainment’ in our industry, is something that has been growing for many years (in Korea) now,” Touboul said. “The changes are being accelerated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
To meet the changing demand, Absolut brand has launched the Absolut Mini, a smaller bottle of its flagship vodka, offering convenience for people who drink in small groups.
Addressing the growing popularity of drinks with lower alcohol content, Touboul revealed that Absolut was also preparing to market products designed to appeal to that preference.
In the latter part of this year, the vodka brand will launch its strawberry-flavored Absolut Juice, which has an alcohol content of 35 percent -- 5 percent lower than the brand’s original vodka product.
“The good thing with Absolut vodka is that you not necessarily drink it neat, but you can make some long drinks or nice cocktails by mixing juice or tonic or whatever mixer you want, that are easy to make at home,” he said, adding that more products with lower alcohol content would be introduced.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org