#sexresponsibly: taking a stand

Last year, Absolut Vodka decided to tackle the taboo issue of sexual consent and alcohol with the #SexResponsibly campaign. Tad Greenough, Global Marketing Director at TAC explains the thinking behind the campaign and the significance of the issue.

What’s the rationale behind the #sexresponsibly-campaign?

Responsibility, alcohol use and abuse unfortunately continues to be an inflammatory topic in the US, but it is usually confined to drinking. As a brand that has always championed important topics, we wanted to take things a step further and include consent in the responsibility debate – even if it meant we’d have to take a business hit. It’s one thing to stand for something, another to actually take action and risk something because you’re doing the right thing. Our partnership with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) also shows that this isn’t just a campaign or purpose washing – it’s an authentic engagement, with action at its core. Ann Mukherjee, CEO of Pernod Ricard North America, has had some personal experience of the negative impact misuse of alcohol might have domestically, so she really took ownership of the campaign.

Why is this topic important and relevant for Absolut Vodka?

We never shy away from controversial issues. It’s embedded in the DNA of the company. In this instance we know that people drink, and we know that people have sex. We also know that consent isn’t always the case and, unfortunately, our products are sometimes part of that equation. So, #SexResponsibly is one way for us to promote responsible drinking and responsible behavior. And the two should always go hand in hand.

How well did the campaign perform? 

Better than we had ever imagined. Yes, the media results, influencer engagement and consumer response were tremendous. But what was most important was the new partnership we created with RAINN, the brand and consumer donations that signaled we were moving beyond a campaign alone. Additionally, it stoked brand love and pride within our organization.

How does the campaign connect to Pernod Ricard’s sustainability strategy?

The thread throughout this campaign and our sustainability strategy is responsibility – it ties into our other values as a brand; how we make the product and how it’s consumed. One of our commitments under the ‘Responsible Hosting’ pillar of our sustainability strategy is to fight alcohol misuse and promote responsible drinking and this campaign reflects this ambition.

Why did you choose to partner with RAINN? 

We are a brand that stands for meaningful action and change, so we want to make sure we were doing this for real. With RAINN we have a partner that’s equally committed and has high credibility in their actions.