“Corporations have no friends. They have employees. Employees who are paid to blindly care about their company and what it is about. At Kanon, we are a group of people who have built a product on passion. From the farmers who grow the local organic wheat we use, to our distillery; Sweden’s only sustainable and one of the few conscious distilleries on Earth. We are working together to make a product that we are all proud of and that even in some small way, improves the world. This same attitude is carried out with how we spread our message. We want to work with friends not employees. Friends who are also passionate about what they do. These “Friends Of Kanon” share our passion for making great things, changing the world, saving the planet, entertaining each other and creating beautiful moments.”

If you managed to read everything, you’re probably thinking the same as me: »Is this real? Does that kind of companies really exist or is this some corporate bulls**t?

Kanon vodka

Kanon Organic Vodka is produced in Gripsholm Distillery in Åkers Styckebruk, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Stockholm, Sweden. It was built in 1580 and around 1770 it was one of the biggest distilleries in Sweden, with a yearly production of more than one million liters of vodka and with 300 employees. Because of a new state alcohol monopoly the distillery was then closed for 200 years, only to be rebuilt in 2008 with the production capacity of 10,000 bottles per day.

You probably know that the biggest and most famous Swedish distillery is Absolut Vodka. It was established in 1879, but sold to Pernod Ricard in 2008. According to Wikipedia Absolut is the third largest brand of alcoholic spirits in the world after Bacardi and Smirnoff, and is sold in 126 countries. In 2008 they produced 96.6 million liters of vodka.

Lykke Li on Kanon’s website

So, what did Kanon Organic Vodka do to stand out from the crowded spirits market? At the beginning they were oriented towards fashion industry and sponsored a series of fashion events and fashion dinner parties for fashion people. Kanon has become some sort of sponsor of the young, hip fashion crowd. They somehow moved away from being strictly a liquor company and Peter Wijk, USA President of Kanon, admitted that it all happened “organically.”

Their invasion in US fashion began in 2010 when they organized a party at Coachella music festival together with American fashion designer Chrissie Miller and her brand Sophomore. That party started the Friends Of Kanon project also known as FOK. Peter Wijk explained that after that party Kanon began collaborating with people who shared their passion for what they do and fashion was just a natural choice.

Kanon’s main focus is of course building brand awareness and making their products more available. I’ve made one simple and short survey among my colleagues. I’ve asked them to name 5 Swedish pop stars and 5 Swedish brands. Here are the results from my mini survey:

Results of ultra mini survey among my friends

As you could expected no one mentioned Kanon, however for one person the top of mind answer was Absolut. Kanon has some very powerful competitors so it must be extra creative if it wants to become an important or distinguished player in the spirits market.

Friends of Kanon (FOK) project is a step in the right direction. Currently there are 71 friends of Kanon. Probably the most famous are: the aforementioned Chrissie Miller, British actor sir Ben Kingsley, Swedish pop star Lykke Li, photographer Yvan Rodic also known as the Facehunter, fashion designer Alexander Wang, singer in the band Little Joy Binki Shapiro and many more. You can check other members of FOK family on Kanon’s official web page.

Lykke Li, live at Popaganda festival in Stockholm on 27th August 2011 (photo by Erik R.)

For me this project is interesting because I’m a fan of Lykke Li and was curious if Kanon would also use product placement as a promotional tool. As far as I know they only put one bottle of vodka in Lykke Li’s video Sadness is a Blessing. I’ve asked Kanon via Twitter if they used product placement anywhere else, but haven’t got any reply (yet).

Kanon Organic Vodka in Lykke Li’s music video “Sadness is a Blessing” (2011, LL, screen capture)

In the recent months and years, some of the biggest and most aggressive brands of spirits used product placement as an important piece of their promotion. The first brand that comes to mind is Pitbull’s brand Voli, which appeared in several of his videos and sometimes looked like a forced placement.

However, it looks like that Kanon chose a different, albeit less direct route to its (potential) customers. But that route is much more positive and much more interesting. Thumbs up!

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