Big Sky Cairn -- a great new conservative blog that we are enjoying -- had the breaking news this past weekend about the Absolut Vodka ad that ran in Mexico. Look at the post, and you'll see why the ad might be somewhat controversial from a geopolitical perspective -- particularly to residents of about a third of the U.S.
In followup, Big Sky Cairn notes that there was an apology of sorts posted on the Absolut website. Actually, there were two apologies -- an immediate one on April 4 that drew more than 1500 comments (from browsing, almost all negative,) and a second, more apologetic one that has 270 comments and counting -- again mostly negative.
What is interesting is that Absolut defended itself by saying that it had different marketing strategies and ad campaigns in different countries and that the ad would have been different had it been intended for an American audience.
There is nothing unusual about targeted campaigns -- whether in politics or in advertising. But in a global economy and the modern information age, politicians and ad-meisters alike usually pay attention to how their ads will be received in other markets. Long gone are the days when someone campaigning for President could be in Louisiana and promise to shift money from corn programs to sugar -- and then go to Iowa and promise exactly the opposite. Or the days when one could sell something in one country with ads that could be perceived as disrespectful to people in another country (at least if that country's market is sizable enough to affect the bottom line -- which in this case, it is.)
Should Americans already angry about our porous borders boycott Absolut? Sure, if they like. That's the beautiful thing about boycotts -- people have the complete freedom to buy or avoid whatever they want to for whatever reasons they choose. In most cases, not enough people participate in boycotts to make any real difference -- and sometimes when someone calls for a boycott it brings more attention to the brand and attracts some sympathy buying. (So look for Absolut sales to go up in some markets and demographics.)
But (at the risk of delving into the argument about whether there even is such a thing as a best-tasting vodka, let alone which ones are better than others) there is a much better reason to avoid Absolut. As long as Grey Goose is available, that is. Or, if one is in the mood for a more authentically Russian experience, one might put on a fur cap with earflaps and drink Stolichnaya while sitting outside in below-zero weather.
This, we would note, is for those who enjoy vodka in straight shots, on the rocks, or thinly veiled in a martini. If you're really mixing it with something, there is a good argument to be made that you're wasting your money on anything more expensive than your basic Smirnoff. In either case, there isn't much of a reason to waste money on buying that expensive Swedish firewater.