Many of you may be aware of the Absolut Vodka advertisement campaign theme, “Absolut World.” These advertisements use the slogan “in an Absolut World” to describe one’s ideal circumstance. One “Absolut World” ad shows a pregnant couple that consists of a slim, smiling mother and a strait-faced father with a bulging belly. Another personal favorite shows a politician standing at a podium delivering a speech with his nose stretched out like Pinocchio. Clearly, in this world these circumstances are impossible, but Absolut Vodka gives us a glimpse into an alternate world where pregnant mothers and disenchanted voters see justice. One recent advertisement from the “Absolut World” campaign has been the center of intense controversy. The ad, shown above, depicts a map of the United States, which places a significant portion of the American south-west within the territory of Mexico.
The map is a throwback reference to the Mexican-American war which took place between 1846 to 1848 after Texas seceded from Mexico. In the ensuing war the United States sent troops to Mexico City and forced her southern counterpart to relinquish half of her territory, thus forming the states of California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming. As the above advertisement suggests, in Absolut’s ideal world this acquisition would never have taken place.
Critics have lambasted the Swedish Vodka company for running the advertisement, with one blogger writing “I have poured the remainder of my Absolut bottles down the sink.” Many more disgruntled Americans and anti-immigration activists are calling for boycotts. The main critique of the advertisement is that it endorses “Reconquista” (reconquest) – an ideology that many Mexican immigrants use to justify their presence in the United States. The idea behind “Reconquista” is that immigrating Mexicans are simply taking back what was stolen from them in the Mexican-American war. Absolut tapped into this prevalent ideology, by creating their “Absolut World” advertisement to fuel profits in a Mexican market. The ad never ran in front of a United States audience.
“In no way was this meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues,” a spokeswoman wrote on Absolut’s Web site said. “Instead, it hearkens to a time which the population of Mexico may feel was more ideal,”
Absolut has since pulled the controversial ad. What do you think about this controversy? Was Absolut justified in running the campaign or are the angry Americans justified in their disgust over what they see as propaganda?