Sweden’s Absolut Vodka pulled an ad in Mexico that showed a map of North America with the pre-1848 borders of the U.S. and Mexico—in which California, Texas, Arizona, and other Southwest states are part of Mexico—under the slogan “In an Absolut World.” Although it never ran in the U.S., U.S. media outlets reprinted the ad, resulting in charges that the vodka company is anti-American and prompting calls for an Absolut boycott. Absolut said the country-specific ad was created “with a Mexican sensibility” in mind, and in no way advocated “an altering of borders.” (Reuters)
What the commentators said
Absolut’s ad is more than a mere “marketing faux pas,” said Investor’s Business Daily in an editorial. There really is a “reconquista” movement here and in Mexico that believes “our Southwest is really occupied Mexico,” and that the massive migration of “illegal aliens crossing the U.S. border” will achieve this reconquering. At least Absolut knows its “customer base.”
The ad is “admittedly a little distressing (especially to those of us from the Southwest!),” said Josh Patashnik in The New Republic’s The Plank blog. But “what self-respecting superpower is so insecure as to start a boycott over a vodka ad featuring simply an historically accurate map?” If anything, you’d think the ad would remind Mexicans that they “ah, didn’t perform too well in that war.” And besides, the ad, for a solely Mexican market, was in English, so what does that say about “the balance of power between the two countries”?
The idea of a reconquista plot is a “fairy tale,” said Ruben Navarrette in RealClearPolitics, concocted by a nativist “right-wing culture mob” that “doesn’t know beans.” Why would Mexicans even want their corrupt government to have the Southwest back, especially as they already get “nearly $25 billion annually in remittances” from Mexicans in the U.S.? The ad was a “recipe for conflict,” but in the U.S., not Mexico. “Whoever heard of a vodka margarita?”