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April 9, 2008
Absolut Vodka Pulls Controversial Ad
An ad showing California and the American southwest prior to their becoming part of the United States that asked the viewer to imagine "An Absolut World" where that might be true again has been pulled by the company.
The distillers of Sweden's Absolut vodka have withdrawn an advertisement run in Mexico that angered many U.S. citizens by idealizing an early 19th century map showing chunks of the United States as Mexican. The reason US media outlets "picked up on the ad" is almost exclusively due to Michelle Malkin's coverage of the controversy and her 175,000 daily readers who responded with a massive write in protest to the company.
The billboard ad has the slogan "In an Absolut World" slapped over a pre-1848 map showing California, Arizona and other U.S. states as Mexican territory. Those states were carved out of what had been Mexican lands until that year. Although it was not shown in the United States,
U.S. media outlets picked up on the ad, and after a barrage of complaints, Absolut's maker said on Sunday the ad campaign would cease.
The complaints from Americans included calls to boycott Absolut with several bar owners saying they would no longer serve the vodka in their establishments.
Absolut should have realized that their market is a global one and targeting a specific market is fine as long as you don't offend consumers in another. This is a hard and bitter lesson for businesses all over the world and has no doubt been noted by international ad firms.