2019 Winners & Shortlists


Product/ServiceABSOLUT VODKA
CategoryCorporate Image & Sponsorship

Why is this work relevant for Direct?

In a country that is torn by sectarianism, and the youth are often expected to fall in love with and marry someone from their own religion, we invited the youth to join us in unifying Lebanon. We called on the youth to fall in inter-faith Civil Love. If they begin to look past religious sect and love someone for who they are, we would begin to heal the divisions that sectarianism has caused. Civil marriage cannot take place in Lebanon, but we brought it the closest possible (12 miles off our coast) and officiated an inter-faith couple's marriage.


In the past, Absolut Vodka was known for its iconic historical communication. However, in the past few years, the brand began following the category codes of emphasizing party culture and consumption enjoyment, losing its original path to success. The youth aged between 20-30, 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 for art’s sake will no longer cut 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 the new Absolut global platform 'Create a Better Tomorrow, Tonight' in Lebanon and engage our millennials in order to stop erosion in market share.

Describe the creative idea.

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 cannot result in civil marriage? Civil marriage could not take place on Lebanese soil, but we discovered that it could take place in international waters, only 12 miles from our shores—a boat ride away. So, we set out to bring civil marriage the closest it has ever been to Lebanon in the hopes of not just making civil marriage possible, but ending sectarianism in general.

Describe the strategy.

From civil war, To declaring civil love, Ending with civil marriage. To engage our audience, the progressive millennials, who share our vision of a more open world, we sought something that was genuinely impacting their daily lives. The Lebanese youth are suffering from an environment plagued with a sectarian mentality - a result of a civil war they never witnessed. Sectarianism is integrated in the Lebanese political system and old social fabric - even running for public offices and voting is based on one’s sect. But the truth is, no matter where they are from, what their faith is, or political views are, nothing matters when a Lebanese couple falls in love! Ironically, our sectarian political system calls for unity but does not allow civil marriage on Lebanese soil: people from different faiths cannot freely marry each other, leading to more separation than unity, something we felt we must address.

Describe the execution.

On June 22nd, we kicked off the ‘Civil Love, Not Civil War’ Exhibition, as art & creativity as a weapon for change is part of Absolut's DNA. We didn’t only sponsor Beirut Design Week, the most recognized design and art event in the country; we also held the exhibition in Beirut’s most iconic war-torn repurposed building. In August, we declared ‘Civil Love’ through social, radio, and outdoor to start the conversation. In the visuals, we repurposed war representations to communicate love, and spotlighted inter-faith Lebanese couples locked in an embrace to create awareness to celebrate the power of love. On September 8th, we set sail, and went from declaring civil love, to bringing civil marriage the closest it has ever been to Lebanon. We sought to start a conversation and explore a solution with hopes to end sectarianism.

List the results.

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 2019 versus those of the same time last year. The overall campaign results: - Reach of 8.1 million. - Total engagement in comments and shares of 160K with 70% coming from earned media. The ‘Civil Love’ wedding was featured in top news channels in Lebanon and was the most read news article for weeks after being published. Most importantly, the Minister of Interior, parliamentarians, and politicians began taking more serious actions to bring civil marriage to Lebanon. 'Civil Love' inspired other civil wedding celebrations around Lebanon and even Syria. Currently, ‘Civil Love’ is also in the process of becoming an NGO, fighting to evolve Lebanese marital law.


Name Company Role
Mo Alghossein Interesting Times Creative Partner
Jimmy Francis Interesting Times francis@interestingtimes.me
Rita Harbie Interesting Times Associate Creative Director
Carl Kaed Interesting Times Art Director
Ashraf Mansour Interesting Times Planning Partner
Wassim Bassil Interesting Times CEO/Founder
Lara Safar Interesting Times Operations Director
Sara Samad Interesting Times Account Manager
Farah Kabbani Interesting Times Account Executive
Bahaa Awad Interesting Times Digital Content/Technology Director
Ali Aladdine Interesting Times Web Developer
Julie Haddad Interesting Times Social Media Director
Vanessa Bou Assi Interesting Times Social Media Executive
Corine Shawi Clandestino Films Film Director
Halim Sabbagh Clandestino Films Film Director
Smarthub Smarthub Production Company
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