Hamilton, Carl 1956-
HAMILTON, Carl 1956-
PERSONAL: Born 1956.
CAREER: Aftonbladet (newspaper), Stockholm, Sweden, columnist, and political commentator; Dilemma (Swedish television show), host.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best Journalism of the Year award (Sweden), for Absolut: Historien om Flasken.
Absolut: Historien om Flasken, Schildts (Esbo, Sweden), 1994, translated as Absolut: Biography of a Bottle, Texere (New York, NY), 2000.
Krönika II: från Silicon Valley till Ådalen, Iris (Stockholm, Sweden), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: A Swedish journalist and television host, Carl Hamilton became intrigued by the story of Absolut vodka while researching business ethics. Behind the official story of a prominent advertising firm successfully marketing a worthy product, Hamilton discovered the strange tale of a marketing campaign designed to sell a bottle, with the contents invented almost as an afterthought. He tells that story in Absolut: Biography of a Bottle. In the words of a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "Hamilton spins out a rollicking tale in which a zany cast of government bureaucrats, marketing mavens and profit-seeking distributors collided with numerous business nostrums and yet managed to create a brand that became the leading imported vodka in the United States by 1985." It is indeed a strange tale of how an "ugly" bottle became an internationally recognized symbol, and how some maverick admen and designers more or less invented a Swedish vodka export industry. There is much else besides, and some reviewers faulted the book for losing focus. "Many characters are vaguely sketched, and several gossipy and digressive chapters should simply have been deleted," commented a Business Week reviewer. For other reviewers, however the ride is well worth the diversions. "Hamilton appears to have derived as much enjoyment from writing the book as most readers will get from reading it," concluded Cecil Johnson, writing for the Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service. "With this splendid story of the selling of a bottle for a nonexistent drink … Hamilton has presented vodka-clear evidence how, in today's marketplace, image takes precedence over product."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Business Week, February 12, 2001, "Birth of a Brand," p. 20.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune New Service, December 7, 2000, Cecil Johnson, "How a Swede Sold a Bottle before He Had Anything to Put in It," p. K1016.
Publishers Weekly, November 6, 2000, review of Absolut: Biography of a Bottle, p. 81.*