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Printing News From Around the World: South of the Border

Absolut's print ads draw fans, foes, and…a vodka boycott?

The goal of a lot of election and political printing is similar to the goal of much of print advertising: appeal to a wide demographic. TRY NOT TO OFFEND ANYONE! That makes it easy to forget that in the past, print advertising has been the source of a great deal of contention. And sometimes, the ad doesn't have to come from a political source to be politically controversial.

For the last year or so, Absolut Vodka has been running a creative advertising campaign around the theme, “In An Absolut World.” Print and television ads have been running all over the world, catering to the cultural zeitgeist of each unique nation with stories and images about what an Absolut, or 'perfect' world would look like.

However, maybe it's impossible to appeal to every country in the world's idea of perfection without offending another. In this case, Absolut ran a border-politics-tinged print ad in Mexico that crept into the consciousness of U.S. vodka drinkers, and now, all hell hath broken loose.

The print ad in question (get a sense of the scale here) shows a map of North America as it was before the Mexican-American war of 1848. This means that in an 'Absolut World' Utah, Arizona, Colorado, California, and Texas, are still a part of Mexico, a la 1930s.

Absolut Mexico Ad

And in Mexico, ad agency Teran/TBWA hit the nail right on the head, appealing both to the Mexican sense of fun and national pride. Unfortunately, Absolut will have to gain a lot of new drinkers south of the border to make up for the U.S. numbers offended and bent on boycotting the vodka due to the controversial print design.

Commenters on other blogs featuring this image can't seem to say enough about the affront done to them by the piece of Absolut print advertising – one of many in a notoriously edgy campaign. Although Absolut apologized Saturday for the gaff, it remains to be seen whether vodka drinkers will agree to make up and play nice.

What do you think? Is this a rightful source of major controversy?


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