Drones, Robots and an Electrified Couch: Launching Absolut Electrik

A house party where doors opened based on guests' biometric energy readings

From a cultural standpoint, Absolut vodka frequently calls to mind two associations: nightlife and a history of art partnerships. To celebrate the launch of their latest limited edition bottle design (in both electric blue and silver), Absolut Electrik, the brand unified both colorful touch-points for a one-night-only house party in Downtown LA, that also factored in some cutting-edge technology. There, drones shook cocktails, taxidermy moose shot lasers, electricity charged through a couch, a Tesla engine powered lightning—and the crowd’s energy determined access to further rooms. It was a vision into an almost-science fiction reality. As much as it was a house party, it was also a tech build-out spearheaded by experiential agency MKG, imagined by creative agency Sid Lee, and incorporating StudioXO. And while only 600 people, roughly, got to experience the wonders, it’s a case study on a brand invested in exploration—and the future.

First, and arguably most impressive of all, every guest who entered the house party was fitted with a biometric wristband. The small rubber device pressed against the inside of attendees’ wrists, and an LED indicator charted emotional and anticipatory highs. As more people arrived, and as people got more excitable, their collective readings were presented by way of a wall projection. As the overall energy reached new levels, additional rooms in the house would open, purportedly based on the readings. They were rather precisely opened timing-wise, but it was impossible to deny exactly how well excitability varied and coincided with the LEDs and the meter on the wall.

And then, drones were mixing the cocktails. A team of bartenders assembled the drink offerings and passed them back to drone counterparts who would shake them back and forth in the air before serving. It might not have been the most efficient means of shaking a drink, but caused frequent pause and consideration. This is an event and a time wherein drones can shake cocktails at a party.

The event also presented two featured performances. The first, held in a garage-like setting, was a three-member robot band known as Compressorhead. The group is already YouTube famous and will attempt to crowd-fund an album in five days. These robots play real instruments, and are programmed to do so with fervor. They played a lot of hits though often changed up the tempo to keep it unique. The only thing more fascinating than watching them shred their respective instruments was the fact there were, on occasion, slight human-like errors. After all, that’s the benefit of a live show: it’s real.

Compressorhead preceded a raucous performance by the band Empire of the Sun. Alongside the band, a 40-foot Absolut bottle stood—and it emitted lightning produced by a Tesla motor. Altogether, it was an impressive feat, but Empire of the Sun’s Luke Steele explained it best to CH: “They’re quite an adventurous and artistic company. It’s always that fine line with an artist—you do not want to work with every company that comes along, but you know it’s run by a team looking around for something mind-blowing. It’s forward-thinking. More companies should be working with artists to encourage exploration.”

The event’s place of quiet reprieve happened to be a couch positioned for photo sessions. When guest sat down, an electric current ran through them and hair stood on end—a fun, comedic touch to experience. It was a party that aimed to realize every connotation to the word electric and it was done so to celebrate an artistic new bottle. Launched this month, Absolut Electrik bottles are available now on select shelves $20 for a 750mL bottle.

Drone, product shot and Tesla bottle images courtesy of Getty Images for Absolut, all other images by David Graver