Skip to main content
Responsible Marketing

Responsible or not? Absolut re-maps North America

By April 9, 2008January 21st, 20217 Comments

Absolut Mexico

Absolut Vodka of Sweden created a bit of uproar recently by re-mapping North America to include most of the American southwest as part of Mexico.

Although the ad was only run in Mexico and was meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek, U.S. consumers threatened boycott and Absulut apologized and yanked the ad.

Our immigration problems are real, but am I missing something?

If Molson created an ad that usurped the Pacific Northwest into Canada, I’d think it was funny. I wouldn’t boycott Molson.

But according to a poll in the L.A. Times, I’d be in the absolut minority if I lived in Southern California:

L.A. Times survey regarding Absolut ad that re-mapped North America

So what do you think?

Is Absolut’s ad responsible or not?

Comment below to weigh in.

. . .

Inspiration for this post came from Deston Nokes on Twitter. Thanks, Deston!

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Deston says:

    The reaction of Americans is typically xenophobic. The Absolut map is based on borders pre 1850, before our war with Mexico when the U.S. “annexed” that huge portion of land. When I was a youth, I toured a museum in Mexico City and the guide explained how the land was stolen from his country. It’s a wound that has been passed down through the generations. The ad was intended for a Mexican audience, and I think it’s inventive and effective in reaching THAT group. Unfortunately for the company, it leaked over the border and has stirred the mindless “They took ‘r jobs!” set.

  • Ryan Dancey says:

    There’s a lot of missing context. The context is that a lot of people in Mexico & in SW USA, don’t see this as “a joke” – they see it as an aspirational potential outcome.

    I lived in southern California for about a year, and it changed my perception on immigration & the integration of immigrants from Mexico forever. It’s a battle lost (if ever even possible to have been won) and now we have to start reconciling ourselves to the reality on the ground. The border between the US & Mexico is a fiction; the two nations now meet in a gray blended zone. Pretending otherwise is just ignoring the reality of the situation.

    There are a lot (maybe millions) of people who think that someday the US will lose those territories and they will revert to Mexico. And the fact that they think that provides a foundation to the irrational fears of the non-Hispanic population in those states. Catering to that (even if in jest) was in terribly bad taste (worse when you learn this wasn’t a campaign cooked up in Sweden, but originated in a Latin American marketing shop who clearly knew what kind of fire they were playing with).

    I say “irresponsible”.


  • Caucasian female graphic designer and So Cal native here— very aware of the Hispanic history and Chumash roots of this area where I was born and raised and have lived all my life. I have 4 comments on this:

    First, I don’t get the connection Absolute is attempting to make. What is their purpose? They’re selling vodka, yet it appears they’re engaging in territorial disputes and border wars, which is a very serious issue.

    Second, the green portion includes Oregon, which has strong Scandiavian and Russian roots, and very little Mexican influence historically. The same is true of northern California. So, the boundary lines in the ad do not make sense as they show little understanding of the history of the western states.

    Third, there is a movement here to return the western USA to Mexico. It’s not hugely vocal, but it’s here, and you notice it if you’re aware.

    Fourth: Let’s take the concept further. How about Absolut creates another version of this ad that blends the USA and Canada together into CANUSA or simply extends USA throughout all Canada’s territory and obliterates it altogether? Let’s see how many offenses can be created over that one.

    Personally, I’m not offended by this ad. I just think it’s awkward and unwise.
    I won’t venture into the aesthetic weaknesses I see in the design of the ad… that’s a whole other discussion.

  • Deston says:

    Actually it doesn’t look as though it incorporates Oregon. I know, I’m IN Oregon.


  • Greg Lins says:

    Absolut surely thought about what Americans might think of the map. Responsible or not, I think it’s fair to say it’s provocative. Provocative marketing is time-tested, and apparently it worked on us. Here we are, commenting about it.

    Responsible? I don’t think anybody was hurt by it – I would call it “Not Irresponsible” but would have to say there was no intention to be “Responsible.” The intention was to be provocative.

  • Diego Briones says:

    I’m mexican. All I can say is this: for a while, vodka will outsell tequila in Mexico!
    Anyway. I think Mexico lost those territories 150 years ago because of its own mistakes. The central government of that era had it coming. It’s painful to lose a war, but hey, it was more a war lost by Mexico than won by the USA. They just happened to be there. We also lost a big part of Central America, by the way. That had nothing to do with the USA. Mexico lost those territories for his own mistakes. Let’s get over it and look forward.

  • Quetzalli says:

    Es Un poster que no esta reflejando el pasado territorial mexicano, mas bien refleja el futuro cultural de Mexico no lo cren Norteamericanos?

Leave a Reply