You know what has been heartening the past two days as reaction to the Absolut Reconquista ad continues to pour in? The fact that so many of you still take our sovereignty seriously and are willing to give voice to your concerns without apologizing for it. I’m including a sample of e-mails below.
But first: The advertising firm that created the Absolut Reconquista ad is Teran/TBWA. Teran is based in Mexico City. The company’s website boasts a pretentious statement of philosophy advocating “disruption” as a “tool for change” and “agent of growth.” (Scroll your mouse over the little buttons in the upper-right margin.) The firm advocates “overturning assumptions and prejudices that get in the way of imagining new possibilities and visionary ideas that help create a larger share of the future.”
Translation: The company advocates overturning borders that get in the way of imagining new maps of North America that help Mexico create a larger share of the continent.
Reader S. wonders if this ad will be next in the Absolut map-drawing/ethnic supremacy/nation-erasing campaign:
Patrick Ishmael wonders how Sweden would like a taste of Absolut sovereignty-sabotaging.
The LA Times blog has a brief write-up about the ad controversy here:
The billboard and press campaign, created by advertising agency TeranTBWA and now running in Mexico, is a colorful map depicting what the Americas might look like in an “Absolut” — i.e., perfect — world.
The U.S.-Mexico border lies where it was before the Mexican-American war of 1848 when California, as we now know it, was Mexican territory and known as Alta California.
Following the war, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo saw the Mexican territories of Alta California and Santa Fé de Nuevo México ceded to the United States to become modern-day California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.
The campaign taps into the national pride of Mexicans, according to Favio Ucedo, creative director of leading Latino advertising agency Grupo Gallegos in the U.S.
Ucedo, who is from Argentina, said: “Mexicans talk about how the Americans stole their land, so this is their way of reclaiming it. It’s very relevant and the Mexicans will love the idea.”
Oops. Guess he didn’t get the liberal talking points manual: You’re supposed to deny that reconquista exists and label anyone who criticizes it and mentions just how pervasive it is as a racist. I’m sure he’ll be re-educated soon enough. Write on the chalkboard 500 times: Reconquista isn’t real. And mindlessly repeat what the National Council of La Raza (The Race) claims: Reconquista is just a “code word” invented by conservative “hate groups” who are just dreaming the whole thing up.
Reader Michael was one of countless e-mailers who contacted Absolut yesterday about the vodka maker’s obnoxious Reconquista ad campaign.
Here’s the response Michael received from Absolut press person Jeffrey Moran:
To: Moran, Jeffrey
Subject: Offensive ad
Sent: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 15:18:30 -0400
was deleted without being read on Thu, 3 Apr 2008 16:28:51 -0400
Reader Larry P. phoned Moran and also got the brush-off:
I called Jeffrey Moran at the number you show, & was surprised that he was the one who answered the phone. I simply told him the Mexican ad was horrendous & that I would never buy any Absolut products & he should be fired. He said it wasn’t his idea, & hung up.
Reader Pam also talked to Moran:
I contacted Jeffrey Moran of Absolut. He was very rude.
I found out that the new owner of Absolut is Pernod Ricard, USA, and their headquarters is located at Purchase, N.Y. Phone number: 914-848-4800.
Jeffrey Moran, is not concerned about the insult to Americans with their Mexican ad. Maybe Pernod Ricard USA will be.
Reader V. e-mailed this message to Absolut:
Your map is just plain damn dumb. Apparently you and the market base you are pandering to is really, really short in the history department.
In July, 1848, the United States government purchased that portion of what is now Texas, save and except that part already given independence from Mexico (i.e. The Republic of Texas), all of what is now New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, Wyoming and a part of Colorado for a total of $15MM in 1848 dollars, and the then existing Mexican debt (whatever that was).
If Absolut Vodka and your intended market base want to talk about re-purchasing all that land, PLUS IMPROVEMENTS AND SERVICES, in today’s dollars, I for one will talk to you about my half-acre in North Texas. The purchase price shall include all the improvements surrounding the property plus the cost of installation of all utilities and services to the property, and my specific property’s fair reimbursement of the costs of illegal alien benefits from city, county, state and federal services.
Poor babies: You have lost more market share that you could ever have hoped to gain.
Absolut has every right to produce such an ad. I hope you are crystal clear that your customers have every right to condemn it.
I make the best Bloody Mary you will every drink, and from here on refuse to use Absolut.
This is a despicable ad.
Reader Matt, a bar owner in California, e-mailed several Absolut execs in Sweden:
I run a bar in Pt. Richmond, California – where the Kaiser Liberty Ships were built during WWII. After seeing your ad Campaign where you show a western map of the United States in which California is part of Mexico again, I’ve decided to do the following…
1) Never carry Absolut. Ever.
2) Lower the price of Ketel One vodka to $2 a shot indefinitely to build loyalty.
3) Print a copy of your ad and put it above the Ketel One drink special.
4) Tell all my friends and family what Absolut thinks of the United States of America and our right to enforce border laws.
I am on the front line of illegal immigration and its effects. Where are you? Oh yes, Sweden.
Pt. Richmond, Ca.
Reader Dev wrote:
Dear Mr. Moran–
I didn’t know Absolut could give a person that big a buzz to commit such poor judgment. I’ve got to give your company’s brand a try.
I suppose in Germany, your company is running the “Deutschland, uber alles” ad campaign — with a map showing all of Europe and Russia under the swastika moniker of the Third Reich. If your company moves quickly, I think it can hire the open car racing president for the TV ad part of the campaign–I understand he and his “associates” already have the necessary uniforms for the role. (They apparently also have some camera equipment for further cost efficiency.)
Keep up the good work–I love the theme, and I’m sure it will be a real winner.
And reader Paul:
Your company’s illustration of Mexico occupying a large part of the western United States is reprehensible for myriad reasons. Not only is it an anachronistic and ersatz view of geography, it also unnecessarily inflames American/Mexican tensions. I understand that marketing is to be provocative, but when it can be used as propaganda for certain people/nations it has crossed the line into the political realm and is, therefore, inappropriate.
It is my hope that this sophomoric and insulting ad is suspended immediately.
Paul D. Hergert
Update: Absolut responds with embrace-diversity talking points…
The In An Absolut World advertising campaign invites consumers to visualize a world that appeals to them — one they feel may be more idealized or one that may be a bit “fantastic.” As such, the campaign will elicit varying opinions and points of view. We have a variety of executions running in countries worldwide, and each is germane to that country and that population.
This particular ad, which ran in Mexico, was based upon historical perspectives and was created with a Mexican sensibility. 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. Instead, it hearkens to a time which the population of Mexico may feel was more ideal.
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. Obviously, this ad was run in Mexico, and not the US — that ad might have been very different.
By Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Communications, V&S Absolut Spirits
Update: The Associated Press was forced to cover the story. I’m not sure why they headline it as Absolut “apologizing.” (It was one of those “sorry if we offended” non-apologies. Also note the AP’s spinning of reconquista ideology as “fringe.” Yeah, it’s so “fringe” that a global corporation incorporated it in a major ad campaign:
The Absolut vodka company apologized Saturday for an ad campaign depicting the southwestern U.S. as part of Mexico amid angry calls for a boycott by U.S. consumers.
The campaign, which promotes ideal scenarios under the slogan “In an Absolut World,” showed a 1830s-era map when Mexico included California, Texas and other southwestern states. Mexico still resents losing that territory in the 1848 Mexican-American War and the fight for Texas independence.
But the ads, which ran only in Mexico and have since ended, were less than ideal for Americans undergoing a border buildup and embroiled in an emotional debate over illegal immigration from their southern neighbor.
More than a dozen calls to boycott Absolut were posted on michellemalkin.com, a Web site operated by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. The ads sparked heated comment on a half-dozen other Internet sites and blogs.
“In no way was it 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,” Absolut said in a statement left on its consumer inquiry phone line.
Some fringe U.S. groups also claim the land is rightfully part of Mexico, while extreme immigration foes argue parts of the U.S. already are being overtaken by Mexico.
At least we know the AP is reading your comments:
“In an Absolut world, a company that produces vodka fires its entire marketing department in a desperate attempt to win back enraged North American customers after a disastrous ad campaign backfires,” a person using the moniker “SalsaNChips” wrote on Malkin’s Web site.
Update: Absolut tries again. I think they are starting to get it:
Posted Sunday, April 06, 2008, 7:38:29 PM
During the weekend we have received several comments on the ad published in Mexico. We acknowledge the reactions and debate and want to apologize for the concerns this ad caused. We are truly sorry and understand that the ad has offended several persons. This was not our intention. The ad has been withdrawn as of Friday April 4th and will not be used in the future.
In no way was the ad meant to offend or disparage, or advocate an altering of borders, lend support to any anti-American sentiment, or to reflect immigration issues.
To ensure that we avoid future similar mistakes, we are adjusting our internal advertising approval process for ads that are developed in local markets.
This is a genuine and sincere apology,
By Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Communications, V&S Absolut Spirits