Marketing 101: Absolut Controversy

The Marketing Doctor treads into dangerous terrain today all in the name of marketing basics. 
As you might have heard, the Absolut Vodka company apologized Saturday for an ad they ran in Mexico showing the country’s borders the way they were before the Mexican-American War 150 plus years ago.
The campaign “In An Absolut World” is running all over the world (read Different Target Markets!) and is supposed to reach out to consumers with ideal scenarios.  In the case of the map above, the ad was run on billboards in Mexico –many Mexicans –not surprisingly— still have warm feelings for those old borders!  As far as I can tell it was not supposed to reach outside Mexico, but it did!  And that’s what sparked the controversy!

But what I want to talk about isn’t the politics or the strong feelings on either side!  No!  It’s Absolut’s response.  They made a big deal of “pulling” the ad –even though it seems that the campaign was already over!  In fact, pulling the ad probably raised the visibility of the controversy even more, because the media really ran with it (see the links below)!

So, Tantillo, what’s going on?  This is my take: Absolut understands that marketing is the new advertising!  These days it’s hard to get your brand to stand out and advertising alone simply can’t do it.  But controversy can and making your ad become publicity –something I like to call “adpublitzing”— can work wonders!  Because the media’s going to play the story over and over again and that will raise your brand’s visibility.  As Mae West: there’s no such thing as bad publicity!  I can think of a few things where she’s wrong, but basically she’s Absolutely correct!  And even Absolut’s comments suggest that they know their target market and what their brand is and that this controversy is only going to build support for their brand!  Their press releases say it all!  They keep referring to being a global brand (read sophisticated!).  So sure, there are going to be some people who’ll threaten to pour Absolut down the drain, but my guess is that their target market –the young, the global-thinking and “sophisticated— aren’t going to be turned off –if anything, they’re going to become more brand loyal!

We’re going to see more adpubitizing, because today you’ve just got to play it louder!

And, remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing in mind!

Here are some sources on the story:,2933,346964,00.html


Be bold when you’re promoting your brand!


What did you think of this article?

  • No trackbacks exist for this post.
  • No comments exist for this post.
Leave a comment

Submitted comments are subject to moderation before being displayed.

 Name (required)

 Email (will not be published) (required)


Your comment is 0 characters limited to 3000 characters.