Absolut international incident?

Posted by Rob Walker on April 6, 2008
Posted Under: Advertising,Backlashing,World News



Strange Maps, via The Plank:

This map, used in a Mexican ad campaign, shows what the US-Mexican border would look like in an ‘absolut’ (i.e. perfect) world: a large part of the US’s west is annexed to Mexico.

Needless to say this map made its way to ‘El Norte’, annoying and upsetting many Americans – even leading to calls for a boycott of the Swedish-made vodka. What must be particularly annoying is that this map has some basis in fact.

The Plank also points to the reaction of someone named Michelle Malkin:

The advertising firm that created the Absolut Reconquista ad is Teran/TBWA. Teran is based in Mexico City. The company’s website boasts a pretentious statement of philosophy advocating “disruption” as a “tool for change” and “agent of growth.” (Scroll your mouse over the little buttons in the upper-right margin.) The firm advocates “overturning assumptions and prejudices that get in the way of imagining new possibilities and visionary ideas that help create a larger share of the future.”

Translation: The company advocates overturning borders that get in the way of imagining new maps of North America that help Mexico create a larger share of the continent.

Well. Two things.

First: An ad agency with a pretentious mission statement full of doublespeak clichés about change and disruption? No way! Say it isn’t so! That’s never happened before!

Second: Like every other agency, what these marketing pros “advocate” is getting paid by their clients. The way they get paid by their clients is to get their clients talked about and noticed. And that was Absolut-ly the goal here. Ad agencies don’t have a political motive. They have a profit motive.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

The mistake here is taking Michelle Malkin, or anything she says, seriously. She’s bonkers, and particularly obsessed with the “reconquista” – this must’ve been a very exciting development for her, playing as it does directly into her paranoid fantasies.

Adding – you are of course absolutely right on both points. They are quite beside the point for Malkin and her ilk, who mostly inhabit a strange parallel world of their own construction where, e.g., Mexico is going to take back its former territory, George W. Bush is the best president ever, the United States is “winning” in Iraq, etc.

Written By jkd on April 6th, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

Hey jkd…
Yeah, I had never heard of Michell Malkin, but I gathered from her blog that she’s … got a unique take on things. And TNR seemed to be familiar with her, so. Anyway, I couldn’t resist.

Written By Rob Walker on April 7th, 2008 @ 9:58 am

Funnily enough, Malkin and I share the same alma mater – Oberlin College. She and her husband (Jesse Malkin) were… not popular on campus, from what I can gather from contemporary accounts.

Written By jkd on April 7th, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

i only know Malkin secondhand through Andrew Sullivan, who ranks her pretty close to Ann Coulter as a deliberately inflammatory and misleading rightwing pundit. in fact he’s got a regular feature on his blog that he calls “the Malkin Award” and which he defines as thus:

The Malkin Award – named after blogger, Michelle Malkin – is for shrill, hyperbolic, divisive and intemperate right-wing rhetoric. Ann Coulter is ineligible – to give others a chance.

it’s interesting to see how folks are getting bent out of shape by this ad. as the ad agency made clear, this is only what the Mexico/US border looked like in 1846. the larger issue is the legitimacy of the Texas rebellion and the Mexican-American war.

Written By discoczech on April 7th, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

to draw a contemporary analogy: the American annexation of the northern half of Mexico was not qualitatively different from the Chinese annexation of Tibet. (hmm, is that the leftwing version of a Malkinesque remark? probably…)

Written By discoczech on April 8th, 2008 @ 1:03 am