Absolut vodka regularly courts controversy in its magazine ads. A promotion the company ran in Mexico, however, has forced it to issue not just one but two apologies. The ad, which was found in a Mexican magazine and posted by blogger Laura Martinez, shows a map of Mexico with its northern border returned to where it was before the Mexican War, 1846–1848. Across the map run the words “In an Absolut World.”
Jake Swearingen of Advertising Industry has a neat sum-up of the consequent kerfuffle. Anti-illegal-immigration groups formed a boycott of Absolut’s parent company, and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin dubbed the map the reconquista ad, after what she says is an actual Mexican movement to reclaim California.
Blogger Julio Gonzalez Altamirano thinks the real problem is the promotion’s creepy focus on nationalism. “[T]here is definitely something unappealing about a corporation exploiting the real resentments present in [a] developing country as a way of establishing brand appeal,” he writes.
What is it with vodka ads and politics? Smirnoff got into trouble when it featured Che Guevara in its ads several years ago, and Stolichnaya uses Bolshevik propaganda images to reinforce its “authenticity.”
Anyway, Absolut has issued an apology (age verification required), saying, “In no way was the ad meant to offend or disparage, or advocate an altering of borders, lend support to any anti-American sentiment, or to reflect immigration issues.” The ad has been pulled from circulation.