Michel P. Roux, chairman/CEO of Crillon Importers, passed away suddenly on April 30 at his home in his Florida. A marketing visionary, Roux was instrumental to the development, distribution and success of several beverage alcohol products, including Stolichnaya Russian vodka, Grand Marnier, Bombay Gin and Bombay Sapphire Gin. But he is best known for transforming the once-unknown Swedish vodka Absolut into one of the most recognizable of all time.
Roux worked with TBWA/Worldwide in 1979 on a simple back-page magazine ad—the distinctive Absolut vodka bottle, a halo, and the line “Absolut Perfection.” The concept, which commissioned artists from Andy Warhol and Keith Haring to Annie Leibowitz and Britto, carried through to some 5,000 executions over the next few decades.
Sales from the Absolut campaign went from 45,000 cases in 1980 to more than 11 million some 25 years later; Pernod Ricard acquired Absolut in 2008 in an $8.9 billion deal. Roux was named the Commander of the Order of the North Polar Star—Sweden’s highest honor—in 1991. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen Roux and son Maximilien.