“No matter your neighbors’ race, sexuality, gender… all feel accepted,” exclaims the opening video and launch promo for The Open Mic Project, Absolut vodka’s new music collaboration designed to promote acceptance globally—“regardless of background, belief or border.”
It’s a bold message for the purpose-driven consumer brand, and it could not be more timely. Moreover, it signals a shift for Absolut from a patron of the arts to a patron of humanity.
The Open Mic Project begins with an open call for submissions of real stories of acceptance, such as a personal history of overcoming adversity or inspiring inclusivity. The submission period is from Oct. 12 until Dec. 1 for a chance to have your “story of acceptance” included in Rita Ora’s new song.
Ora, the face of the project, is not only a British singer (with hits such as “Your Song” featuring Ed Sheeran), but also a style icon and actress. Born Rita Sahatçiu, she fled to the UK from then-Kosovo in 1991 and has been outspoken about her past and the plight of current refugees. She has also partnered with the brand on an Absolut Tune performance.
That background makes Ora a meaningful face for Absolut’s campaign, which will see her Open Mic Project song debut at the 60th annual Grammy Awards in New York on January 28th.
“As a global icon in the music, entertainment, and fashion industries with a strong penchant for righting wrongs and raising awareness for social causes, Rita Ora was a natural choice,” Nicholas Guastaferro, Absolut Director of Marketing at Pernod Ricard, told brandchannel.
The Open Mic Project finds its inspiration in Absolut’s recent campaign “Create a Better Tomorrow, Tonight,” he added.
“The ethos of that campaign is about using creativity to inspire action and spark change,” Guastaferro said. “With The Open Mic Project, Absolut is giving everyone a voice, regardless of background, belief or border, to spark a much-needed refresh toward a more inclusive, accepting world.”
As part of the project, Absolut is touting its significant progressive branding history. In the 1980s, the brand partnered with provocateur and artist Andy Warhol. That signature bottle has led to hundreds of other artist collaborations over the years, including the iconic Keith Haring.
More than just bottle designs, Absolut was one of the first (1981) mainstream consumer brands to advertise in The Advocate, America’s landmark LGBT publication.
More recently, Absolut has reached out to celebrity endorsers for unconventional celebrity endorsements—witness last year’s Grammy Awards campaign with Santigold and Skylar Grey to create a “social movement” that saw the popular musicians hit the Grammys red carpet with fashion accessories promoting social awareness messages.
The brand, says Guastaferro, has deep roots in inclusivity and acceptance and the “Create a Better Tomorrow, Tonight” message builds on that heritage. “Each expression of this new global campaign will use creativity as a force for positive change, inspiring action around the world.”