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Updated at 12:15pm — U.S. Vodka-Maker Teases Absolut Over Mexico Ad

SKYY Vodka says it "proudly supports the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo."


SKYY Vodka, founded in San Francisco in 1992 and calling itself America's most popular domestic vodka, weighed in today on the controversy over its Swedish competitor Absolut Vodka's ad campaign in Mexico showing that country's pre-1848 borders, including much of the southwestern U.S., according to a SKYY news release.

"In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially ended the Mexican-American War (1846-1848)," the news release began. "With the signing of this treaty, the United States gained control of what was to become the Golden West, including California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and parts of Colorado and New Mexico."

SKYY's Dave Karraker said his firm proudly supports the results of that treaty, adding (tongue planted firmly in cheek) that residents of those states "might be interested in changing their mailing addresses, as our competitor seems to be suggesting in their advertising, is a bit presumptuous."

Absolut's map, the release points out, not only negates the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo but the Texas Independence of 1836 and the Gadsden Purchase of 1853.

"Don't get me started on the Gadsden Purchase," Karraker said in the release. "I think the folks in Tucson and Yuma would be rubbed the wrong way if hear this landmark deal was somehow nullified as suggested by Absolut, a Swedish-owned brand."

Now that's a clever appeal to national pride, and it treats Absolut's pandering ads with the whimsy they deserve.

9:30am 4/8/08 — 'Secure Borders' Groups Call for Absolut Boycott: Ad showing expanded Mexican borders is down, but the controversy goes on.

A coalition of more than 100 organizations dedicated to border security and enforcing existing immigration laws today launched a nationwide boycott of Absolut Vodka in response to an ad campaign in Mexico that showed a map with Mexico's pre-1848 borders intact, including much of the current U.S. southwest.

The National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition (NIIBC), a group that has launched boycotts against Miller Brewing and the Bank of America for what it calls their support for illegal aliens in the United States, has launched a new Web site,

The Web site claims that by running its ad in Mexico, Absolut Vodka is "promoting, encouraging, and pandering to separatists that threaten the territories, sovereignty, and national security of the United States of America."

Absolut has apologized for running the ad, which it yanked last Friday and promised never to use again, and claimed it intended no such thing.

But if the ad is no longer running, the vodka-fueled flames of controversy rage on — thanks in no small part to blogger Michelle Malkin, who first called attention to the ad last week.

Now, according to Malkin, there is a heated discussion going on "between left-wing Wikipedia gatekeepers and users who wanted to add information about Absolut's reconquista ad and apology."

On Wikipedia's "Talk: Absolut Vodka," that discussion begins with "Could someone protect this page to new users? Apparently some non-notable bloggers have taken offense to (Absolut's) recent ad campaign and have repeatedly vandalized this page."

Another "gatekeeper" weighs in: "… there is no way a single ad campaign (or a single ad in it) gone byu all but a small contingent of white supremacists and other miscellaneous right wingers looking for their `controversy' du jour could rise to the level of notability that would merit its inclusion in the page.  Given that absolut-ly no one cares outside of the Malkin set, a rather fringe political demographic to be sure, I'd have to second the motion to protect the page until the `issue' is forgotten (i.e. next week)."

Elsewhere, the Talk page discussion goes on to say, "The truth … is that the Mexico ads are being flogged by people with a fairly clear political agenda and that within a few days no one except a small political fringe of right blog readers will remember this ever happened."

But the ad flap appears to have moved beyond the fringe into the mainstream anyway, according to this list of stories from Google News

There's even a lively discussion over at where blogger Matthew Yglesias (hardly a right-wing white supremacist) suggests in "Absolut Counterfactual" that the Swedish vodka company provide every nation in the world with its own fantasy map.

9:10am 4/7/08 — Absolut Apologizes Again for Mexico Map: Earlier "sorry if we offended anyone" replaced by "genuine, sincere" apology.

Absolut Vodka's apology for advertising its product in Mexico showing a map of pre-Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo boundaries including much of the southwestern United States — as described in The Associated Press story below — must not have been sufficient, because a company spokeswoman late Sunday issued a new "genuine and sincere apology," according to .

Michelle Malkin, who indignantly posted a copy of the ad at her Web site last week, was not impressed with Absolut's earlier apology, or with the way the AP reported it.

"The Associated Press was forced to cover the story," Malkin wrote. "I’m not sure why they headlined it as Absolut `apologizing.' (It was one of those `sorry if we offended' non-apologies. Also note the AP’s spinning of reconquista ideology as `fringe.' Yeah, it’s so `fringe' that a global corporation incorporated it in a major ad campaign."

Here's the text of the statement from Absolut:

During the weekend we have received several comments on the ad published in Mexico. We acknowledge the reactions and debate and want to apologize for the concerns this ad caused. We are truly sorry and understand that the ad has offended several persons. This was not our intention. The ad has been withdrawn as of Friday April 4th and will not be used in the future.

In no way was the ad meant to offend or disparage, or advocate an altering of borders, lend support to any anti-American sentiment, or to reflect immigration issues.

To ensure that we avoid future similar mistakes, we are adjusting our internal advertising approval process for ads that are developed in local markets.

This is a genuine and sincere apology,

By Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Communications, V&S Absolut Spirits

UPDATED at 10:00am 4/6/08 — Absolut apologizes for an ad campaign depicting the southwestern U.S. as part of Mexico.

Vodka-maker Absolut apologizes, ends ad showing California, Texas as part of Mexico
Sunday, April 6, 2008 
MEXICO CITY — The Absolut vodka company apologized Saturday for an ad campaign depicting the southwestern U.S. as part of Mexico amid angry calls for a boycott by U.S. consumers.

The campaign, which promotes ideal scenarios under the slogan "In an Absolut World," showed a 1830s-era map when Mexico included California, Texas and other southwestern states. Mexico still resents losing that territory in the 1848 Mexican-American War and the fight for Texas independence.

But the ads, which ran only in Mexico and have since ended, were less than ideal for Americans undergoing a border buildup and embroiled in an emotional debate over illegal immigration from their southern neighbor.

More than a dozen calls to boycott Absolut were posted on, a Web site operated by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. The ads sparked heated comment on a half-dozen other Internet sites and blogs.

"In no way was it meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues," Absolut said in a statement left on its consumer inquiry phone line.

Some fringe U.S. groups also claim the land is rightfully part of Mexico, while extreme immigration foes argue parts of the U.S. already are being overtaken by Mexico.

"In an Absolut world, a company that produces vodka fires its entire marketing department in a desperate attempt to win back enraged North American customers after a disastrous ad campaign backfires," a person using the moniker "SalsaNChips" wrote on Malkin's Web site.

A plan for comprehensive immigration reform designed to deal with an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States — the vast majority from Mexico — collapsed last summer under the emotional weight of the debate.

Absolut said the ad was designed for a Mexican audience and intended to recall "a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal."

"As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market, and for that we apologize."

Vin & Sprit, Absolut's Sweden-based parent company, will be acquired by French spirit maker Pernod Ricard SA under a deal reached last week.



1:55pm UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times is weighing in on the Absolut Vodka "reconquista" ad campaign, which is currently under way in Mexico.

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., the Times reported.

“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,” said Ucedo, who is from Argentina.

But Ucedo told the Times (with considerable understatement) that if the campaign were to run in the United States, it might fall flat.

Not too long ago, Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, blasted some television commentators (mentioning Pat Buchanan and CNN's Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck by name) for demonizing Latino immigrants, legal and illegal alike, during the current heated immigration debate.

At La Raza's Web site,, among the "code words" used to smear Latinos is "La Reconquista" — the supposed reconquest of territory that once belonged to Mexico that was sold to the United States at gunpoint following the Mexican War.

Now, if accusing Mexican immigrants of trying to retake those lands — including California, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Nevada — is hate speech, what does La Raza make of a new ad from Absolut Vodka, now appearing on billboards and magazines in Mexico and the Internet?

Anti-illegal immigration firebrand Michelle Malkin has been stoking outrage (here and here) over the ad that shows a large swath of the U.S. Southwest as part of Mexico (under the words "IN AN ABSOLUT WORLD"), even inviting a photoshopped alternative.

"Reconquista," according to La Raza, is "an antiquated metaphor used by Chicano scholars in the 1960s to refer to a mythical `Aztlan' in the Southwest. Although it is difficult to find anyone in the Latino community outside of a few student groups or fringe groups that have ever espoused this idea, it appears to be gaining far more attention and notoriety in the context of the current immigration debate than it ever did as a scholarly doctrine."

We learn from Wikipedia that the term "reconquista" was originally advanced by Mexican writers Carlos Fuentes and Elena Poniatowska to describe — in a somewhat jocular reference to the Spanish reconquest of Moorish Iberia — the demographic and cultural re-emergence of Mexicans in the Southwestern U.S.

While we rarely agree with our friend and colleague Jim Belshaw about anything, we heartily concur with one thing he said in his column this morning about the trial and conviction of UNM student Peter Lynch over his destruction of the Mexican flag.

This is truly "The Outrage Age, The Overstatement Epoch," Belshaw wrote.

"I'm never certain what's at the center of it," he wrote. "All I'm certain of are the adjectives: overwrought, overstated, too loud, too mad about too little. But the noun the adjectives modify, the center of (the) thing, escapes me."

As for the noun "Reconquista," maybe we'd all best heed the advice of former President Bill Clinton (in a vastly different context) and just chill out.