afaqs! news bureau

Absolut Glassware’s moves to build an inclusive world

Florian Sallaberry, Group Head, International Brands, Pernod Ricard India speaks on the brand’s activities for the queer community.

When the new year rolled in, many hoped for a better life. Some have begun to see it. Some are still latching onto their hopes. Many members of the queer community, despite the cultural and political and legal advances, are part of the latter group of people.

They still face rejection and hate from many, and when people do try to become their allies, they can sometimes fall short of expectations.

“Look I get it. As an ally, you have questions. You want to know more. But, being a little sensitive when you are asking those questions… goes a long way,” said Jay Anand in Absolut Glassware’s pride campaign in January.

This to a message asking his name. “As a trans man, I know what you’re really trying to ask but perhaps phrase it better. Maybe you could ask… Do I always go by Jay? Maybe I will tell you how I chose that name.”

As Jay puts it, “There are no wrong questions. But there are right ways to ask.”

This is one of the several stories the brand uploaded on its Instagram page. “The objective of the campaign was to help, even if it is one person, to be much more comfortable with who they are and ensure people around him/her/them will understand them better,” says Florian Sallaberry, Group Head, International Brands, Pernod Ricard India.

Absolut has been an ally of the queer community for more than four decades and this campaign made specially for India featured voices from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum including names such as Dutee Chand, Durga Gawde, Patruni Sastry, Jay Anand, Alex Matthew, Aniruddha Mahale, Maitrayanee Mahanta, Anwesh Sahoo and Anjali Lama.

When asked if the India team has looked at or taken inspiration from the brand’s activities in the west, Sallaberry says it was important for them to send a message which was localised and that is why they decided to work with Indian influencers coming from the entire spectrum of the community as well as different geographies within the country to show the maximum diversity.

Go through all the Instagram stories and there is a noticeable bent towards the GenZ and the millennials. And while the younger generation is more embracive — Sallaberry agrees — he wants every generation to embrace the message.

If reaching the older generation is necessary, maybe Absolut should get its whisky siblings to target those folks but the group head of international brands disagrees.

Yes, the whisky brands would target older consumers, but for this specific campaign, I don't want to divide. The objective is to unite behind one single message which is acceptance, and openness to people who are different, that is how I want to build the campaign,” he asserts.

Another interesting aspect of the Absolut Glassware campaign is its partnership with Mr Bartender & The Crew, India’s first bar academy for women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, to create safe spaces through sensitization workshops across the country. This initiative aims to be an ongoing program targeting 100 bars in its first leg.

Absolut Glassware is also conducting Pride nights in key metros Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata. The intent is to celebrate members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies.

“The more I think, the more I feel calling them pride nights is not the right way to do it because it is not a question of pride and the conversation and support to the community should happen a whole year,” he feels when asked about these events and the brand does plan to extend them to other cities too. 

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