The Absolut Experience
Online and event lessons from a multinational
At the back end of November I spotted a tweet from @absolutuk…
… not a lot of detail there – rather cryptic in fact, though it did involve Vodka, so I thought it’d be worth checking out. I followed the tweet trail through to @absolutuk‘s feed and saw that there was indeed an experience to be had. We weren’t given full details, just a taster. Now that the Absolut Experience tour is over I wanted to talk a little about the event, how right Absolut got it and the footprint the Absolut Experience has left.
On arrival, my awesome wife Hannah and I were greeted by a doorman of gigantic proportions (that’s anyone over 5 ft 8 to me yeah?) and an exuberant, white overall wearing host asking us how we found out about the experience and introducing us to a tunnel of rain.
Yep, Rain. Indoors!
We gladly took the provided see-through brollies and traipsed, nay, danced through the tunnel of rain to the tune of “Singing in The Rain” and entered the building (Project Space Leeds – well worth checking out!).
First up, after the obligatory (and amazing) Absolut Espresso Martini, we’re thrust headlong into a room of rotating, triangular mirrors eagerly playing games and interacting with us. We’re immediately convinced of the aceness of the event and we’ve set our brains to “play” mode (you can see us playing with the playful mirrors in the flickr slideshow below)
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Next we’re treated to ambient music, created for us in real time by slow-spinning turntables graced with Absolut bottles, and crystal glasses spinning in a field of wind-chimes. Geek-wise, this flicked my buttons as all three turntables were mic’d up and playback combined all three tables’ sounds of their very different glasses (champagne flute, wine glass and tumbler) to make a constantly changing, never repeated ambient installation. Simple yet elegant.
Next, we’re off for a one-minute cocktail – a joint effort between ourselves and our next trusty barman. Nom nom nom… and we’re off into the UV/String Maze.
The idea of the maze is that you are given a ball of string and told to make the maze harder for the person coming after you as you pass through. It’s a living maze and it gets harder as the night continues. Again, very playful (the concept of play, and the idea of playfulness have been hounding me of late. I believe in the power of play). No sooner are we through the maze and we become part of a percussion circle, using upturned buckets, hi-hats and the iconic Absolut bottles. 5 minutes of rabble-rousing noise and we’re through the door and we’ve become artists… well, most of us.
Make Art Make Art
5 of us are now greeted by an artist and art critic, with beret, sitting around our fellow “experiencer” who is now our subject. We have to draw him… without looking at our page. Carnage. You can see the pose and the outcome on my flickr pages or the slideshow above. Then we’re off to write a novel… Live… and between us all. Amazing fun.
… an amazing gag this. We head into the final part of the experience – a giant 30 ft wide table-tennis table with 5 or 6 of us per side. We prepare (with lunges and other warm up exercises) and start to ping-pong with the person facing us. 30 seconds go by before the shout of “New Balls Please!” and with that, 2 or 3 hundred pin-pong balls are fired across the width of the table from a giant air-cannon. Amazing.
A couple more drinks at the bar and a couple more at Mojo and the night’s complete.
All that remains to say is thanks for the experience, and thanks also to fellow revellers, the Hebe Media peeps we met on the night who also helped make it a bag load of fun… Their blog on the event (from which I stole shared the picture of the maze) is here.
Why have I blogged about it up here? What is there for artists to learn from this? Well, as per myinterview on Hypebot a few months ago, it’s reinforcement to me again that events are what drive happiness. What’s more, the event remains something that I want to tell people about, and I’m recommending following Absolut on Twitter, and I’m buying Absolut because I want to give back a little for the ace experience. There’s a lesson in this for bands and artists. Give people experiences they’ll treasure and the joy they experience will come back to you many-fold.
The online footprint that the Absolut Experience is leaving is massive. Have a look at the tweet, tag, blog and mention counts on absolut.com/uk. It’s quite staggering! I’ve been telling everyone about this event. I’ve raved about it to friends and family, I’ve tweeted about it, I’ve posted this blog here, it’ll go up on twitter and on facebook. I’ve tagged the whole set on flickr with Absolut and recommended their cocktail iPhone app to anyone who’ll listen. I am not alone in this…
So, go forth and create something special. Gigs are gigs. Make yours an event.
Forgot I’d put this audioboo up…