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Absolut®-ly nuts

A controversy has erupted over an Absolut® vodka ad campaign in Mexico which depicts the US-Mexican border as it was in the early 1800s - with Mexico controlling California and much of the Southwest, report Deborah Bonello and Reed Johnson for The Los Angeles Times:

The colorful ad, created by the Teran\TBWA agency and the vodka maker, is a sight gag depicting what a map of North America might look like "In an Absolut world," i.e., a perfect one.

It shows the Mexican border extending, very roughly, to its position during the 1800s before the Mexican-American War.

At that time, California as we now know it was part of Mexican territory and known as Alta California. Those territories eventually became U.S. property after the voluntary annexation of Texas and, later, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Read the full story at the link above. Strangely, the article - at least the online version - doesn't include the actual ad, so readers have to use their imaginations. You can see it at Monsters and Critics, though (scroll down).

Many are now boycotting Absolut as a result of the ad. I rarely drink vodka at all, but I recall a few years back, a blind taste test was won by Smirnoff's premium brand over all the trendy foreign labels.

When emotions run hot and tempers begin to flare, America looks to the calm wisdom and sober judgment of Frank J. at IMAO, who isn't worried, and imagines this conversation:

MEXICAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: Yay! I've made it to America!

MEXICAN OFFICIAL: I'm afraid not. We took over most of the west coast. You're still like a thousand miles from the American border.

MEXICAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: Crap. Do you have any work I can do?

MEXICAN OFFICIAL: Of course not. This is Mexico.


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Comments (19)

Frank J nails it.... (Below threshold)

Frank J nails it.

I grew up in Canada that ha... (Below threshold)

I grew up in Canada that had it own militant separatist minority. The FLQ bombed a bunch of places, robbed banks, but fortunately only killed a handful of people. It was the militant extension of a general separatist movement.

The sentiment expressed in the ad is not something to take trivially.

I'm with the people that had 'emotions that ran hot and tempers that flared' on this one.

This is evidence of the ... (Below threshold)

This is evidence of the perfect storm that occasionally swamps ad firms.

1) Foreign owned client (Absolute).
2) Ad content created, produced and distributed by ad firm totally disengaged from political process and national sentiment (which blame lies squarely at Absolute).
3) Failure to understand/anticipate the possible adverse effects on others than the targeted demographic.

Absolute should ask for their money back....and more.

I should have linked this:<... (Below threshold)

I should have linked this:


and noted where the ad firm was domiciled.

HughS ~ I suspect the ad wa... (Below threshold)

HughS ~ I suspect the ad was conceived, designed, and placed entirely by the agency's section which deals with Mexico, so they probably never gave a second thought to the effect if it was seen by Americans. The ad was only running in Mexico, and in Spanish, so it just never occurred to them even to think about it.

But why ask for their money back? They got one heckuva lot more attention through the controversy than they would have from just the ad. Most of those loudly calling for a "boycott" probably never bought the stuff in their lives.

Oh, okay!... (Below threshold)

Oh, okay!

Jim You're probably ... (Below threshold)

You're probably right about the boycott, but I just found this on the Absolute parent company site. The execs at Pernod are surely not enjoying their martinis right now.

Here is one of their four core values:

Our final core value is perhaps our most important. It defines the relationships we have with each other. Conviviality represents a state of mind. At its core, it means a willingness to reach out to others, in a spirit of openness, respect and friendship. This key value is evidenced every day in how we join together to work as a team and how we support and encourage each other to make a difference.

These four core values define Pernod Ricard's culture and have helped shape the identity of the organization as a whole and Pernod Ricard USA. It is these values that will continue to guide our people and our brands to new successes in the future.


But why ask for their money back?

I don't know anything about advertising, Jim , but something makes me think that the guys at the parent company don't want to have to explain this FUBAR to many people. Absolute is a premium brand, the US is a huge market for this brand and they have struck a nerve with a big segment of that market. I'll leave it at this: I would not want to be the primary contact on this Monday morning at http://www.terantbwa.com.mx/ nor would I want to be the US Pernod contact who approved it.

They got one heckuva lot... (Below threshold)

They got one heckuva lot more attention through the controversy than they would have from just the ad. Only it was the bad kind! The kind where people boycott your product! Not the kind of attention you want as a retailer or manufacturer!

No, because the people who ... (Below threshold)

No, because the people who are their customers don't give a rat's ass about some map ad that ran in Mexico. The demographic is what we used to call "yuppies" for the most part. Even the conservatives among them are less concerned about this than a moderate working-class Democrat from Arizona might be.

Now, if Budweiser had sponsored the ad, they might have problems.

Skyy Vodka in the Blue Bot... (Below threshold)

Skyy Vodka in the Blue Bottle. Best stuff ever and quadruple distilled/filtered...purest brand on the market.

Why do all the Mexican's think that spanish is a secret code language? I'm not as white/pale as JT, but I am becoming fluent in spanish and it is offensive to me that Hispanics speak spanish in front of me and about me assuming that I can not understand 'their' language because of my 'whiteness'!

I notice the references to ... (Below threshold)

I notice the references to the map as "before the Mexican-American War" in the article.

That war WAS known as the Mexican War in the US. Until yesterday, I guess.

Re: the map. Somewhere on the campaign trail Juan McCain has heartburn. This story is just soft enough to have legs. NAU for Dummies.

I was wondering if anyone w... (Below threshold)

I was wondering if anyone would actually remember the Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo. I learned about it in grade school.

Hubby made me laugh this mo... (Below threshold)

Hubby made me laugh this morning when I showed this to him. He asked if I thought anyone would be dancing in the streets burning Absolut effigies or Swedish flags, or if there may be a rash of blond people being kidnapped and demands made to secure their release, or if the Swedish government will be forced to take responsibility for this abomination and invoke new laws to hold Absolut responsible and make them pay.

I said, "Imagine if they had a similar ad campaign for, say, Israel..."

Oh great.Next thin... (Below threshold)

Oh great.

Next thing you'll be telling me is that Grey Goose is French.

Miller beer sponsored an il... (Below threshold)

Miller beer sponsored an illegal immigration rally a few years ago. People got all upset, did small boycotts and then eventually sales returned to normal, same thing will happen with this.

the people who are their... (Below threshold)

the people who are their customers don't give a rat's ass about some map ad that ran in Mexico Maybe when they sober up?

Somebody fixed the map.<br ... (Below threshold)
Double UNow THERE's ... (Below threshold)

Double U
Now THERE's a map for the Houston and Dallas market!

Now Svedka is at least as g... (Below threshold)

Now Svedka is at least as good, at a cut-rate price, and had the "ethics" to pull the plug on sponsoring Lindsay Lohan's party after one of her DUI's. LOL Their campaign of a few years ago trashed Scientology, among other things, which also endeared them to me as the drink of the land of my forebears.

But: Febot in the White House????






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