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Tuesday Map: Absolut Reconquista

This week’s Tuesday map comes to us from a billboard controversy south of the border. Created by advertising agency Teran/TBWA and launched a few weeks ago in Mexico, the Absolut billboard ad depicted pre-1848 North America -– before the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo turned Mexican territories into what is now the American South West. The ...

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This week’s Tuesday map comes to us from a billboard controversy south of the border.


Created by advertising agency Teran/TBWA and launched a few weeks ago in Mexico, the Absolut billboard ad depicted pre-1848 North America -– before the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo turned Mexican territories into what is now the American South West.


The campaign was obviously intended for a Mexican audience, as Favio Ucedo, creative director of a top Latino advertising firm, explained:

Many (Americans) aren’t going to understand it. Americans in the East and the North or in the center of the county — I don’t know if they know much about the history… Probably Americans in Texas and California understand perfectly, and I don’t know how they’d take it.”

But Absolut quickly learned just how some Americans would take it: not well.  Although the ad never appeared in the U.S., it was picked up by American media outlets, causing a flurry of complaint from U.S. citizens (some more creative than others).

As of Friday, Absolut’s maker Vin & Spirits had decided to withdraw the apparently offensive advertisement even though it “was based upon historical perspectives and was created with a Mexican sensibility… [and was] in no way was meant to offend or disparage, nor…advocate an altering of borders…”

Lucy Moore is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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