This image has appeared in Absolut vodka ads south of the border. This article from the LA Times states:
The billboard and press campaign, created by advertising agency Teran\TBWA 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. (Texas actually split from Mexico several years earlier to form a breakaway republic, and was voluntarily annexed by the United States in 1846.)
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., which was not involved in the Absolut campaign.
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.”
But he said that were the campaign to run in the United States, it might fall flat.
Hmmmmmm…really? I wonder why?
Ucedo’s reasons why the campaign would fall flat, however, twists my bloomers a bit…..He says, “Many people aren’t going to understand it here. Americans in the East and the North or in the center of the county -- I don’t know if they know much about the history. “Probably Americans in Texas and California understand perfectly and I don’t know how they’d take it.”
While I agree that many Americans don’t know ALL of the details regarding their history…which I find sad, one thing most adults do know is the basic shape of our country on a map.
Absolut had to know this is more than just a cute little ad.
The ad's message has more than one intention, and I don’t really care if Absolut has apologized or not. The small caption published along with the map says that the ad was created for the Mexican audience only and was intended to recall “a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal.”
What’s next? Will we soon be seeing ads intended for German citizens showing maps with concentration camps highlighted? Will Italians see ads showing the gradeur that was Rome by depicting Christians being torn apart by lions? What about an ad targeting Native Americans depicting North America in its natural state? In this type of context we can see how these types of things can be offensive to some.
While I agree that the examples I set out above are extreme compared to a mere image showing a map of past boundaries even a map that seems innocent enough can portray mixed messages in society. For example, think of the mixed messages if the Absolut company decided to run an ad campaign depicting a map showing the United States as it appeared in 1866 or 1867…..What types of reactions would that map garner?
Bad form, Absolut….bad form indeed.