You’ve probably heard about this by now. An Absolut Vodka ad in Mexico has stirred up a furor in the United States. The ad, which depicts a pre-1836 map of Mexico that includes territories since lost to Texas independence and the Mexican-American war behind Absolut’s slogan, “In an Absolut [i.e. perfect] World,” was clearly playing with nationalistic fire: in appealing to Mexican nationalism, it dredged up nativistic anxieties in the U.S. But even without the nationalist subtext, it was a boneheaded move on the V&S Group’s part, for which they have apologized.
Trying to place this affair in some larger context, the Los Angeles Times looks at “alternative cartography,” including maps we’ve seen before like the Jesusland Map — maps changed to make some larger point.
If the Absolut backlash was an overreaction, and sometimes came from places that one should not be proud of, it was nevertheless understandable. Cartophilia says, “get a sense of humor … you won the war, remember?” In response, allow me to make the following analogy. Imagine the reaction in Europe if, say, Absolut published an ad showing the pre-World War I boundaries of Germany; the fact that we won the war — twice — would do nothing to assuage the uproar that would cause.
Other examples come to mind: “Absolut Malvinas” for the Falklands, an “Absolut Québec” that includes Labrador. What can you come up with? I hereby call for your best shot at a fake Absolut ad on a controversial cartographic theme. (See, for example, Nikolas Schiller’s take on the District of Columbia and the U.S.-Mexico border.) Post a link to your creation in the comments, or add it to The Map Room’s Facebook page. (I’ll set up a Flickr group as well if there’s sufficient interest.)