Mexico Reclaims American Southwest in Vodka Ad

April 5, 2008

In the latest example of misplaced priorities rabid anti-Hispanic sentiment in the United States, Americans are livid over a rather clever Absolut vodka ad campaign which appealed to Mexican pride and was intended to be viewed only in Mexico. Say what?

The Absolut ad portrayed an “ideal world” in which much of the American Southwest, Texas and California belong to Mexico. Created by the Teran/TBWA ad agency, the ad’s graphics were based on a pre-1848 map made before the Mexican-American War. Infuriated and hypersensitive bloggers immediately swore never to drink Absolut again.

Mexico Reclaims California in Controversial Absolut Vodka Ad

Jeffrey Moran, an Absolut spokesman in New York, was quoted in the LA Times as saying: “This ad certainly has nothing to do with [the] immigration issue or anti-Mexican sentiment. It’s based on a historical perspective on what Mexico once was. That’s all,” he commented. In a Times poll, 59 percent of respondents said the ad was an “affront” to Americans and indicated that they’d be boycotting Absolut.

Eduardo Caccia, vice president of the Mindcode advertising agency in Mexico City, said: “This advertising basically taps into a very painful episode of Mexico’s history, so the cultural code for understanding that [for Mexicans] is ‘We were robbed’…For the U.S. it’s different. The understanding for that episode is ‘We bought some land. We made a deal.’ The same event, but with different meanings.” The ad campaign, which has been running for about two months in Mexico, was scheduled to end this week.

Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Communications, Absolut VodkaAbsolut tried to assuage Americans in a corporate blog post written by Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Communications, V&S Absolut Spirits. However, the response was vitriolic, with 95 pages of comments voicing anti-Hispanic sentiments. “Monique’s” comment was milder than most; she wrote: “Thanks for encouraging those idiots from La Raza!” Another person commented: “I am looking forward to the ‘Absolut Palestine’ ad showing the Middle East without Israel. It would hearken to a time which many Arab countries may feel was more ideal. You can use my idea without compensation. Just let me know when you run it. Thanks!”

Patrick Ricard, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard SALate Saturday, Absolut caved in and pulled the ad. Last week, Vin & Sprit, Absolut’s Swedish-based parent company, was acquired by Paris-based Pernod for $8.34 billion, making Pernod second only to Smirnoff in vodka production. Hopefully, the French will proceed as usual and not care what Americans think.

Photo credit: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg News and Mats Lundqvist

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