Absolut Vodka has a history of collaborating with pop-culture innovators, from artists Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst to director Spike Jonze and photographer Ellen von Unwerth. Its tie-in with musician Lady Gaga not only continued that tradition but also helped the brand strengthen its affinity with the LGBT community, members of whom make up a significant portion of Lady Gaga’s audience.
Working with Live Nation Entertainment, Absolut Vodka sponsored the Artpop Lounge for all 28 dates of Lady Gaga’s artRave: The Artpop Ball tour. The lounge itself wasn’t merely a special backstage area; it was actually on the stage, a bar designed as part of the theatrical set, where the lucky few could sip special Absolut cocktails while Lady Gaga performed just a few feet away.
To win seats in the lounge, fans could enter a sweepstakes via social media, in which participants were encouraged to share how they would improve their community, accompanied by the hashtag #Absolutgaga. In addition, 33 LGBT-friendly Absolut bar accounts in 11 markets held Lady Gaga-inspired runway shows; competitors who transformed themselves into a personal expression of the performer vied to win tickets. At the concerts themselves, attendees could engage in a text promotion, featuring Lady Gaga herself encouraging participation, to win upgrades to the lounge. Absolut also posted, on YouTube and other channels, behind-the-scenes videos.
Fans went absolutely gaga over the campaign, whose performance exceeded the brand’s expectations. The initial May 1, 2014, press release alone generated 130 million impressions and more than $3 million in earned media. More than 105 million people interacted with the promotion via social media, and 728 lucky fans got to enjoy drinks such as the Absolut Gaga (ginger ale, sparkling cider, grapefruit, and Absolut) onstage while Lady Gaga sang and played piano.