By Annette Shailer and Ian Neubauer
The Swedish parent company of Absolut vodka issued an apology this weekend for an advertisement that depicted Mexican sovereignty over a number of American states and sparked calls in the US to boycott the brand.
The media ruckus that has accompanied the development marks a problematic start for “In an Absolut World”, a new marketing campaign that presents idealised scenarios in different cultural contexts.
The map shown in the offending advertisement dates back to the early 19th century when California, Texas and other southern US states were Mexican territory. These territories were ceded to the US in the 1848 Mexican-American War.
The advertisement flamed nationalistic sentiment in the US, where illegal immigration from the super power’s impoverished southern neighbour has sparked virulent debate in the lead-up to the November election.
Following calls from fringe groups and bloggers to boycott the brand, Absolut’s maker, Vin&Spirit (V&S) of Sweden, issued a statement explaining its position.
“The particular ad, which ran in Mexico, was based upon historical perspectives and was created with Mexican sensibility. In no way was this meant to offend or disparage to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues,” said V&S vice-president – corporate communications, Paula Eriksson.
“As a global company, we recognise that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market. Obviously, if this ad was run in Mexico and not the US, [the] ad might have been very different.”