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Absolut Boycott: Absolut Nonsense.

Posted by: David Kiley on April 8, 2008

Absolut Take Two:

Just when I thought the Absolut vodka dust-up stemming from an ad it ran in Mexico would be a one-day story, some self-appointed border security advocates have decided to organize a national boycott of the Swedish brand. Oy.

At, there is the following statement.

“There is a rapidly growing separatist movement in the United States that is being fueled by illegal immigration across our Southern Border with Mexico.

While many in the American media try to ignore or play down the threat, this radical movement is much stronger than most Americans know and global companies like Absolut are trying to cash in on it.

Sentiments that the Southwest United States rightfully belong to Mexico are so prevalent in Mexico and among illegal aliens that the Absolut Vodka company ran this ad on a billboard and in a Mexican magazine called Quien

The ad’s message to the Mexican audience is “In an Absolut (ie Perfect) world, 1/3 of the US is returned to Mexican control.

The National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition (NIIBC) represents over 100 civic organizations fighting for secure borders and immigration enforcement.

This, of course, is a cheap attempt to draw attention to the Mexican border issue adopted by CNN’s Lou Dobbs and former Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, but which has captivated comparatively few voters.

But brands are easy targets for generating publicity. Some brands, of course, ask for boycotts based on sustained actions and policies they employ. Companies that buy goods from countries with nationalized companies that oppress their citizens and engage in human rights violations comes to mind as a good reason. Abusing the environment seems like a good reason too.

But targeting a company with a boycott because their Mexican unit ran a single ad whose intent was misunderstood and blown all out of proportion seems like a specious reason for organizing a boycott. It’s worth noting that when Absolut was informed of the offense taken over the ad, it pulled it.

Some free advice for Absolut from crisis management counselor Eric Dezenhall: At this stage, there is no way to get people to “un-remember” the ad and anything too PR-ish done to attempt to spin it will only keep it in the news longer. Sometimes there’s something to be said for tiptoe-ing gently into the night after the ad goes dark and letting the next wave of gotcha news take its place.

I have taken some hard comments about referring to Michelle Malkin as "intellectually suspect."

I said this not because I disagree with Malkin's allegedly conservative politics, but because so many of her arguments are intellectually lazy and nothing more than water-carrying for the right-wing fringe.

Take this from her recent column on Absolut.

"Fresh off its Aztlan debacle, the company announced its newest campaign this week featuring an ad titled "Ruler," described as "a humorous look at gay men and their fascination with perfect, eight-inch 'member' measurements."
The company doesn't seem to have grasped that left-wing identity politics and liquor don't mix."

The Absolut ads, both the Mexican ad and the gay media ad, have nothing to do with politics, but rather demographics and cultural touchstones.

That's right. Not everything has a political bent. But she, like so many other flame-throwers, take a small bit of information and tailor it to an intellectually un-informed and lazy position.

The ads are created to resonate with the audience at which they are aimed through media selection. If Malkin sees the gay ad she objects to so much, one might ask her what she is doing consuming gay media.

The ad that ran in Mexico is akin to, for example, if Absolut ran an ad that depicted a White House cabinet meeting that (and I'm making this up to make a point)was made up of Abraham Lincoln and his "Team of Rivals." Another example might be if an ad titled "Absolut Pick-Up Game," depicted a playground basketball game with Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlin, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Bob Cousy.

Malkin and her like view a ham sandwich through a political lens. But sometimes a ham sandwich is just a ham sandwich, a duck is a duck and an ad is an ad.

Reader Comments

Senior Lopez

April 8, 2008 11:15 PM

You cannot honestly be so naive as to think the the slieght here was unintentional?

I, for one, will boycott Pernod Ricards products, and perhaps educate them a little about free markets and free speech in the process.

You see, in my Absolut America, you CAN say anything you want. You just CAN'T expect there to not be any consequences for expressing your ideas.

a citizen

April 9, 2008 4:04 AM

You need to recheck your figures.
Millions of ciitzens know about Aztlan
Millions of citizens know about mexica movement dot org.

We've seen these in the marches for illegal invaders on youtube and in person.

Google is a citizens friend,much information there.

A reader

April 9, 2008 12:51 PM

I am just curious to know how much Absolut lost and how much it gained from this ad. I would think that those who fight for secure borders and boycott Absolut are not the people that consume Absolut on the first place. May not be such a big "crisis" for Absolut after all.


April 9, 2008 2:45 PM

Politics are like a poison. If you spend too much time immersed in them, they taint everything you do and see. And often times, politics are like religion. They claim to be based on facts, but often the supposed facts are modified or truncated to fit in with a dogmatic ideology that doesn't change. Opposing thought for the political mind can be dismissed as bias or a competing belief that's invalid and dishonest no matter the evidence to the contrary. If it doesn't fit the dogma, forget it.

As long as people have disagreed and chose to bash each other over the head with talking points and dogmas, ignoring the complexity and the shades of gray that go along with reality, we had those who think they know everything about you, from your tastes in music to your political and sexual orientation, just after taking a quick look at you walking down the street. They're simply incapable of letting things go without injecting politics and conflict into them.

Their political God requires sacrifice and that sacrifice is their self-immolation when the sparks of their rage ignite the fumes of their ideology which form a constant aura around them.


April 10, 2008 6:37 AM

Imagine this: A Stoliknaya ad campaign in Russia that shows "A Perfect World" in which Russia conquers Sweden and Finland (they were largely successful in the early 19th c). I'm fairly certain that there might be one or two Swedes and Fins who would show their distaste by calling for a boycott of Stoliknaya Vodka. On the other hand, I doubt that jackasses like David Kiley would dare call them nativist nazis, as he essentially has with offended Americans. What if Beefeater Gin ran a "Perfect World Ad" portraying Ireland as completely Orange under English conquest? With a name like "Kiley," some of his kinsmen might be a wee bit upset. Yet again, I doubt that jackass would condemn the supporters of the impending boycott of Beefeater Gin as nativist nazis. Kiley's problem, of course, is not that he has a double standard; it's that the jackass hates America. Well, that's his right I suppose; but it is also OUR right to both complain and to refuse to give patronage to commercial entities who offend us with impunity. The only Absolut Nonsense is Kiley's position on this matter. Jackass.


April 16, 2008 5:37 PM

Of course such an ad is going to get political. It's showing the changing of borders. And being a Californian where many demonstrations have been held I've seen enough Aztlan type posters to last me a lifetime. So you can't tell me it's not political. No Absolut will be in this household ever.

Seen it, believe it

April 16, 2008 6:29 PM

Absolut may have meant it as a joke, but to those of us living in the Southwest, Reconquista threats are all too real. Have we already forgotten the massive public demonstrations just a few years ago in which many protesters carried signs with Reconquista-type slogans, claiming our land as theirs? That this sentiment, that the southwestern US should belong to Mexico, is widespread is further proved by Absolut's confidence that Mexican consumers would get the joke.


April 17, 2008 12:50 AM

The Absolute Boycott was an ABSOLUT-LY necessay. Pandering to those who believe that portions of America belong to Mexico is an insult and an affront to American citizens. Your article is shallow and without merit. IT IS ABSOLUT NONSENSE!


April 25, 2008 11:12 AM

Absolut Boycott: Absolut Nonsense.
Posted by: David Kiley on April 08

You have NO CLUE what your talking about. You are nothing more than an Anti-American or a illegal yourself. If you are a legal citizen, you have ties to the illegals and are a traitor to your own people. You shame yourself.

kiley from businessweek

May 29, 2008 11:44 AM

I'm neither anti-American, nor an illegal. But I am very pro vodka and pro-free speech.

A concerned citizen

July 1, 2008 6:09 PM

"The ads are created to resonate with the audience at which they are aimed through media selection. If Malkin sees the gay ad she objects to so much, one might ask her what she is doing consuming gay media." - D. Kiley

and you call Malkin 'intellectually lazy'.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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