Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Jingoism Doesn't Mix Well With Vodka

This Ad Absolutly Had A Hard Time Crossing The Border
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And maybe it still is.
In an ad for the Mexican market, Absolut showed a pre-1848 map of the U.S., which would put California and Arizona, among other states, firmly on the Mexican side of the ledger.
Apparently, some folks north of the border got the impression that Absolut was fomenting rebellion and urging Mexicans to take up arms and get back what's rightfully theirs. Maybe they were drunk on the competition's vodka. Whatever.
The ensuing reaction forced Absolut to play defense, at least publicly. "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," the company said on its Web site.
Still, Absolut has pulled the ad.
Which may have been the intention all along. You could view this as damage control for some bad PR. But I'll give Absolut a lot more credit than that. Their marketing savvy has been proven time and again. The company knew the ad would eventually be seen here, and cause a shitstorm in the process.
Sure, you'll get the Glenn Beck acolytes scurrying to the attic to raise their flag and call for boycotts, pour their Absolut down the drain and all of that other jingoistic nonsense. But those with at least a jigger of common sense, in other words, the likely buyers of Absolut, can see the ad for what it is, a continuation of a deft ad strategy that has fired on all cylinders for the better part of two decades.
Absolut may have pretty much invented the concept of premium vodka, but it long ago lost its cachet as the edgiest brand out there. It needs to clamor for attention. This might not be the way they teach you how to get it in PR school, but so what?
It worked.

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