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Civil Love

Industry: Alcoholic drinks
Style: Minimalism
Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

The 'Civil Love' boat wedding brings to life Absolut’s vision for a better, more open world. Absolut's mission is to promote freedom to love whomever you choose.
Our event allowed people to not only hear the brand promise but also feel it, and know that the brand is acting upon it.
Absolut is a brand that encourages the youth to believe in creativity as a force for progress. So, we discovered a creative solution to bring civil marriage the closest possible to Lebanon, all while taking a stand for freedom to love whomever you choose.


In the past, Absolut was known for its iconic bottle-oriented communication. However, the brand later began following the category codes of emphasizing party culture and consumption enjoyment, losing its original path to success.
The youth aged 18-30, Absolut’s current audience, are too young to remember the appealing history of the brand – which impacted the year-on-year decrease of sales.
With the mission of making Absolut relevant again, we needed to return to our roots. However, art on its own no longer cuts it for our audience, as they seek substance and purposeful brands that share their values of a more open world.
Our objective was to launch & localize the new Absolut global platform 'Create a better tomorrow, tonight' in Lebanon and engage millennials in order to stop erosion in market share.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

Lebanon is a nation of 4.5 million Lebanese deeply divided by 18 religious sects. These sects were engaged in a 15-year Civil War, and 28 years later, Lebanon is still divided at heart by it. ‘Civil Love: The hope for a unified tomorrow', is a campaign suggesting that the best way to blur the sectarian divisions in Lebanon is for the youth of different faiths to fall in love with one another.

But can civil love truly heal divisions in Lebanon if it can't result in civil marriage?

Civil marriage cannot take place on Lebanese soil, but we discovered a loophole. It could take place in international waters, only 12 miles from our shores—just a boat ride away. So, we set out to bring civil marriage the closest it has ever been to Lebanon in hopes of not only making civil marriage possible, but as a stand for free love.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

From civil war, to declaring civil love, ending in civil marriage.
We needed to engage our progressive millennial audience, who share our vision of a more open world and highlight a social issue that was of utmost importance to our youth. The Lebanese youth are surrounded by an environment plagued with a sectarian mentality - the result of a civil war they never witnessed.
Sectarianism is integrated into the Lebanese political system and social fabric. Due to parental pressure, the youth are often encouraged to only love and marry someone from their own sect.
But the human truth is, no matter where they are from or what their faith is, nothing matters when a Lebanese couple falls in love.
Our sectarian political system does not allow inter-religious civil marriage on Lebanese soil, leading to more separation than unity—something we felt we could creatively address.

Describe the execution (30% of vote)

On June 22, we kicked off the ‘Civil Love Exhibition’, in collaboration with Civil War photographers & post-war artists, with love overtaking iconic Civil War photography.

In August, we declared ‘Civil Love’ through social, radio, and outdoor to start the conversation.

On September 8, we set sail with an inter-faith couple to bring civil marriage the closest it has ever been to Lebanon. With the couple, a marriage officer, and the couple's loved ones, we officiated the first-ever civil marriage to take place at the closest point to Lebanese territory. As soon as the boat reached international waters, we reached a point where Lebanese marital law no longer applies, and began to abide by the law of where the boat was registered (in our case, Cyprus). This world-first would make waves to Lebanon and beyond.

List the results (30% of vote)

- From a year-on-year loss in sales, to an increase of 17.69%. These figures are based on the sales data of July to December 2018 versus those of the same time last year.
- The ‘Civil Love’ wedding was featured in every top news channel in Lebanon and was the most read news article for weeks. It was even featured on Dutch National Television.
- Civil Love became a social movement, with inter-faith couples professing their love using #CivilLove and requesting to get married on the Civil Love boat
- As a response to the movement, the newly formed government's very first action was to position civil marriage as a civil right.
- #CivilLove inspired other civil wedding celebrations around Lebanon and even Syria.
- 30Million+ in Views & Impressions
- 3Million in Engagement
- $1Million in Earned Media
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Bronze Brand Experience & Activation
Food & Drink
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