Absolut retreat puts California back in US hands

Amid a stampede of criticism, the makers of Absolut Vodka have pulled a controversial advertisement depicting large swathes of the United States as Mexican territory.

Absolut retreat puts California back in US hands

“We’re really very sorry,” said Jacob Broberg, a spokesperson with Vin & Sprit, the company which manufactures the popular vodka brand, to The Local.

“The ad should never have been approved.”

The controversial ad featured a map depicting how America looked prior to 1848, when California was still part of Mexico. The ad was part of print and billboard campaign launched in Mexico as a part of the ‘Absolut World’ campaign, and was not meant for a US audience.

But word of the ad spread quickly through on-line and traditional media, sparking a firestorm of criticism directed at Absolut, accusing them of ignoring sensitivities related to the issue of Mexican immigration into the United States.

“We’ve really learned a lot from this experience,” said Broberg.

“There is no such thing as a local ad in a global world.”

Broberg wanted to assure the drinking public that Absolut was taking the controversy seriously, which was part of why the ad was pulled.

“We’re working to improve our marketing practices so that nothing like this happens again in the future,” he said.


Swedish Purity in Absolut Vodka brand battle

Swedish upstart distillery Purity Vodka has taken beverage giant Absolut to court, in an attempt to straighten out a branding and marketing dispute.

Swedish Purity in Absolut Vodka brand battle
The Absolute Ice Bar. File photo: Tom Godber/Flickr

Stockholm district court will look into a claim by small Swedish distillery Purity Vodka's complaint that Absolut used the word 'purity' in a marketing campaign that the former claims infringes on the Purity trademark. 

The Dagens Industri business daily reported on Thursday that Absolut Vodka has used the term 'purity vodka' in a series of advertisements targeted at the US market. 

"We thought they should remove the word 'purity', it is our trademark, but they refused," chairman and Purity Vodka co-founder Göran Bernhoff told the paper. 

The complaint lead to Absolut Vodka countering the act by suing Purity Vodka both in Sweden and in the US.

"I'm surprised that they want to scare us, we are a small company," Bernhoff commented. "But we won't give up." 

Absolut Vodka has a long past of fiercely guarding its trademark. 

In 2010, the Swedish distillers sued British broadcasters at the Absolute Radio station. The dispute resulted in a confidential agreement between the two companies, allowing the radio station to keep its name. 

READ ALSO:  Sweden axes new word after Google intervenes

Last year, a hairdresser in Washington state in the US had to re-brand his salon after the vodka giant objected to his use of Absolute in the business name. His British colleagues appear to have stayed clear of disputes so far. A quick yellow pages search revealed on Thursday that there are still scores of Absolute Beauty salons, from Stirlingshire to Cornwall.

In Sweden, meanwhile, there are Absolute Car Towers and Absolute Catering, among seventeen other entries on phone and address directory website spanning cleaners to dentists.

Absolut is owned by French drinks group Pernod Ricard, which acquired the famed Swedish brand in 2008 when it purchased the Vin & Sprit (V&S) group from the Swedish state for 55 billion kronor ($8.88 billion).