Food & Drink

Absolut Ad Offends South Koreans

Over the past four decades, Absolut has found creative, interesting, cheeky and stylish ways to celebrate the bottle’s iconic shape into its advertising. Its latest Facebook ad campaign may have gone a step too far, however. Last week, the liquor company released an ad that used images of the recent political protests in Seoul, South Korea, against President Park Geun-hye. The protests have been the largest in Korean history, with one rally on December 4 attracting 2.3 million people. For their ad, Absolut photoshopped the candles held by a crowd into the shape of an Absolut bottle, along with the slogan “Absolut Korea: The Future Is Yours to Create.”

While it was intended to be inspirational, the message didn’t sit well with many South Koreans, who didn’t want their protests co-opted for advertising. The reaction on social media was swift, as commenters chided the vodka company for making light of serious political turmoil.

This isn’t the first time Absolut’s hard-driving marketing has led them astray. In 2008, the company was forced to apologize for an publishing a map in one of their ads that reimagined the southwestern U.S. as part of Mexico. 

While it seems they successfully backpedaled out of the Mexican dust-up, the company tried a different approach this time: sweep the whole controversy under the rug. According to Munchies, Absolut simply changed its Facebook settings to prevent users from embedding the company’s posts.

Pro tip, Absolut: The internet remembers everything. Maybe just avoid the dirty business of politics and stick to crafting clean, sippable vodka