creative advertising | ABSOLUT VODKA x GAO YU x CHEN MAN “72 transformations” china limited edition bottle released
Swedish vodka brand, ABSOLUT, has a long history of creative collaborations with artists all over the world. It’s worked with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Helmut Newton, Damien Hirst, Louise Bourgeois, David Shrigley, Douglas Gordon, Sylvie Fleury, Dan Wolgers, Hung Tung-Lu, and hundreds of other designers and photographers throughout the years.
Continuing this tradition, ABSOLUT is launching its first ever limited edition bottle in China – exclusively designed by Chinese artists for the local Chinese creative community. ABSOLUT collaborated with artist Gao Yu (高瑀) to create a China-only redesign of brand’s iconic bottle titled “72 Transformations” (72变). ABSOLUT also worked with leading-edge Chinese photographer Chen Man (陈曼) to produce a series of avant-garde photographs to compliment Gao Yu’s bottle re-design and extend the brand’s “Transformations” campaign theme.
Why “72 Transformations”?
The Monkey King (Sun Wukong, 孙悟空), an important figure in traditional Chinese folklore, has the ability to transform himself 72 different ways as he overcomes obstacles on his pilgrimage to achieve enlightenment. It’s this ability that inspired Gao Yu as he thought through how to re-design the ABSOLUT bottle and express the brand’s “transformation” campaign theme.
Here’s what Gao Yu had to say the creative process:
“The traditional Chinese folk story of the Monkey King and the character of Sun Wukong lives on with all of us into adulthood. The story’s bold, powerful, innovative, and unrestrained ideas have inspired many generations to realize their imaginations and fantasies. The Monkey King’s ability for “72 Transformations” is a perfect example of innovation through change. In designing this limited edition bottle, I used a panda to play Sun Wukong since it’s a strong symbol of traditional China, but also because it fits with ABSOLUT’s constantly changing and evolving brand philosophy.”
And Chen Man:
“I hope through this series of images I created for the campaign that I’m able to bring viewers and consumers a totally new experience that starts from seeing the product and ends with tasting it. I also hope to highlight ABSOLUT Vodka’s multiple flavors in a compelling way, and help show the brand’s modern, audacious, and innovative spirit.”
See below for Gao Yu’s “72 Transformations” bottle design. We’ve also shared Chen Man’s photo remixes as well as a short video featuring interviews with and behind the scenes footage of Gao Yu and Chen Man throughout the creative process. Be sure to check it all out.
The creative concept behind Gao Yu’s design does a great job of integrating the campaign’s theme of “transformation” together with traditional Chinese cultural elements. The idea of a panda (a fairly obvious / recognizable symbol of China) masquerading as the Monkey King is very clever twist to the story that adds a compelling key visual to capture the campaign’s key message.
As usual, Chen Man has created a series of irresistible images, and, in our humble opinion, is outshining Gao Yu a bit in this collaboration. We love how she used a single model for all of these images, transforming her appearance throughout. Again, another very cool way to express the campaign’s “transformation” theme.
We applaud ABSOLUT’s efforts in the campaign. It’s a cool idea and the brand has, like it has in many other markets, put forth a compelling collaboration with local artists. We just hope it’s not a one-off effort and look forward to hearing more about ABSOLUT’s long-term commitments and plans to further engage with the Chinese creative community.
For more on creative advertising in China on NeochaEDGE, link here. /// KA
Gao Yu “72 Transformations” limited edition ABSOLUT bottle design ///
Absolut Tonic ///
Absolut Ginger Ale ///
Absolut Cranberry ///
Absolut Monkiwi ///
behind the scenes / making-of with Gao Yu & Chen Man ///
72 Artist – Gao Yu ///
Gao Yu was born in 1981 in the Anlong county of Guizhou province. Along with others in the post-80s generation, comics and manga strongly influenced his youth and popular culture is where he often finds his inspiration. Upon graduating from the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 2003, he became one of the youngest contributing artists and animators in China’s creative industry. In 2004, a group of his paintings “Under the Red Flag” sold in a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong for nearly 200,000 HKD; in 2006, “看不懂也猜不透” (Don’t Understand and Can’t Guess Clearly) sold in a Sotheby’s autumn auction for nearly 300,000 HKD, setting an all-time high for similarly aged artists in Asia. Since 2004, Gao Yu was invited to show his work in many art exhibitions, laying the foundation for other contemporary artists in his field.
From the time Gao Yu was young, he;s also found inspiration from traditional Chinese legends and folktales. In particular, he has chosen China’s national treasure, the panda, as the main character of many of his works, which he portrays in different ways as a new challenge in his pieces. Although he’s a cartoonist, Gao Yu doesn’t feel the constraints faced by many other artists in the expansive field of contemporary art. Everyone who is familiar with traditional Chinese culture is able to find familiar re-interpreted stories and characters in Gao Yu’s work that offer a new and unique perspective.
72 Photographer – Chen Man ///
Born in 1980 in Beijing and a 2005 graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Arts photography department, Chen Man has shown tremendous talent since she first hit the scene. From 2003 to 2007, Chen Man was the cover photographer for “Youth Vision” magazine; in 2004, Chen Man started a working with Tony Studio and has since collaborated with a number of top photographers both domestically and internationally.
Chen Man brings a different perspective to all of her photography, exaggerating the language of the camera and showing an extraordinary ability to interpret her own unique style in fashion. Her works have been shown in Italy, won awards in Hong Kong and other countries, as well as being published numerous times in “Performance” (France), “Unlimited” (USA), “Nylon” (UK), “Sports & Street” (UK), and other well-known magazines. Chen Man also recently participated in a joint photography exhibition that was shown in New York, London, and other international cities.