Bad Press

absolutWhat was your initial impression upon seeing this ad created for Absolut Vodka’s “In an Absolut World” campaign?  The campaign equates ideal or enticing scenarios to the cool factor that comes with consuming Absolut Vodka. Though the ad is from last year, it can still teach us an important lesson about culture savvy, informed marketing.

The ad, which only ran in Mexico, appears to depict a 19th century era map in which Mexico’s territories extended into what is now California, Texas, and other southern states.  Choice conservatives in the US reacted violently to the ad, claiming it a disparaging assault on Americans and a none-too-subtle remark on immigration issues.

Absolut maintains that the ad was intended for a Mexican audience, and wasn’t meant to be derogatory or incendiary, but they’ve since apologized for its content.   Their public apology can be found here.

“As a global company, we recognize 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, and for that we apologize.”

Ads won’t be seen in just one market – negative publicity spreads like wildfire on the Internet.  News stations and bloggers alike are equally liable to grab hold of a controversial topic and blow it out of proportion.  In this day and age, advertisers and marketers must filter their creative ideas through several unbiased ears and eyes before running with any ad.  When it comes to dealing with ethnic minorities, disparate Hispanic market segments, and a whole host of issues mired in historical debates and conflicts, a marketer can never be too careful.