Magnus is breaking old ground in Åhus
Soon Absolut will have a home to call their own with the development of the new Absolut Brand Home in Åhus set to open in 2018. Leading the project forward is Magnus Hammarskjöld, Head of Project Development Brand Homes, who took the time to sit down during a hectic building project and answer a few questions.
What has led you to work with Absolut?
Much in life is a matter of chance. The right opportunity has to present itself when you are open for it, and just over six years ago it did. Absolut is a fantastic brand and The Absolut Company is a great place to work. It all comes together – brands, knowledge, resources and people.
Being able to work within a trusting organization that allows employees to step out of their comfort zone to grow and develop is inspiring and fun and are two very important parameters to me.
You seem very versatile and multi-faceted in terms your various positions within Absolut through the years?
To me it’s all about learning new things and solving new challenges. Being able to use my experience and at the same time develop by learning new things is fantastic. I am now on my third large project at Absolut, starting with the redesign of Absolut Flavours and then the redesign of Absolut Vodka, two of Absolut’s most complex projects ever.
These had to be carried out ensuring that production and shipment could proceed without delay. To be able to achieve this, breaking down silos and working cross department was critical. Suddenly, it’s not just a marketing project, it's a company project involving production, supply chain, legal, finance and so on where everyone is working together to achieve a common goal.
When people come after projects and say "You've redesigned the Absolute Bottle", I say "No, I've had the privilege of leading a team that together redesigned the Absolute Bottle", it's important to emphasize the team's joint effort.
It’s the same situation now when we are building the Brand Home in Åhus in a relatively short time with many new challenges. We can build factories, develop advertising campaigns and create new products. We’ve done this and time has shown that we are very good at it. But we have never built a Brand Home earlier nor a visitor experience on this level and the only way to solve it is to work together, cross functions, towards one common goal.
How was the idea of the Visitor Centre born?
Having a Brand Home for Absolut has been a dream for many years. To be able to tell our unique One Source story, that all Absolut Vodka comes from one place, that is so relevant today, will be amazing.
Brands that can immerse consumers will create a deeper level of connection and commitment. A lot of Swedes are very proud of Absolut, and we want to give them more reasons to be proud of the brand.
What can visitors expect when the gates open in 2018?
We hope visitors will meet an experience that reflects the pride we all share for our product and brand, our commitment to the environment and the community of Åhus. We want to bring visitors into the factory and meet the people that work with great passion to delivery a great product. We also hope that visitors will go home knowing that not all vodkas are the same and that production does matter for the final quality of the product.
In addition there are several important and unique stories we want to share. Starting with our progressive founding father, LO Smith, and his progressive ideas that are still essential to our identity today. Åhus is the perfect place to tell this story as it is our heart, our one source, our one community.
Are there any long-term visions for the experience center?
There are plans, but one thing at a time. Hopefully this is the first step to give consumers an experience that goes beyond the bottle and our advertising. We are a brand that believe in everyones equal rights to be who they are and to express themselves and that is what we would like the visitors to experience.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
First of all there are some 200 days and thousands of tasks to get through until we can open the doors to our Brand Home. Having said that, I think much of what happens in life If you’d asked me four or five years ago if I were to redesign one of the world's most famous design icons, I would not have thought so. If you had asked me if I were to build a Brand Home for Absolut I'd say "No, that's not what I do" but then, here I am!
So to sum it up i think it's a lot about being open and receptive to new things and daring to use your experience as you go out into new terrain. That's what makes working and life exciting.