The good and bad of city-themed branding

A few brands have tried to package the feel of Chicago in a product in recent weeks. How well did it really work?

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Introduced in October 2013, Absolut Chicago is the latest limited-edition, city-inspired flavor to join the Absolut portfolio. Capturing the essence of the city’s thriving culinary scene, Absolut Chicago features a savory blend of olive and rosemary and a bottle that showcases the iconic cityscape, stemmed from a collaboration with Chicago’s own Threadless design community. Introducing Absolut Chicago – the vodka that captures the unique blend of the past with the cutting edge of right now that makes Chicago a modern classic.

That’s an interesting perception of the city, but Chicago already has an official spirit: Malort. It’s so awful that it has its own facial expression that people make when they drink it. Google “Malort face,” or watch this video: That is what I think of as a brand of liquor for a city. We live here despite its harshness. Malort suits us. Bath and Body Works similarly tried to co-opt the city’s charm by describing its “Lake Shore Drive’ candle thusly:

“A windswept blend of fresh water, shoreline woods and a hint of mint.”

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