Be Careful with How Ads Appeal to a Local/Regional Market

They Could Backfire In Neighboring Markets

This lesson is being learned the hard way by Absolute Vodka.

In a marketing campaign targeted to a Mexican audience Absolute thought it might be good to appeal to Mexicans at a sentimental and emotional level by alluding to the past. Namely Mexico’s former territorial boundaries before they were lost to the United States some 160 years ago.

The ad features a map of North America with the Mexican border including much of California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Colorado. It of course has raised the feathers of many Americans.

Absolute Mexico - the Absolute Vodaka Ad

While this ad campaign has garnered a lot of attention for the Absolute Vodka brand it could do serious harm to their sales in the USA. I’ve seen many comments on various blogs and news posts about the ad from very disgruntled Americans. Some stating they will no longer drink Absolute Vodka.

But usually even bad press is good press in the marketing world. I suspect that the negativity surrounding the ads will eventually pass in the USA. We do after all have short attention spans. Meanwhile Absolute has probably strengthened their brand, quite significantly, in Mexico and with many Hispanic Americans.

So, while Absolute is facing lots of criticisms, and offering apologies, their strategy may very well work out for the better. From a marketing perspective. If only because they are a massive international brand. A smaller brand could never get away with a fiasco like this one.

But there are many examples where smaller businesses, using historical rivalries between cities, have made for successful ad campaigns. This is particularly true in regards to sporting events. You can sometimes see restaurants and pubs using various types of derogatory slurs towards rival sports teams and their inhabitants as a means of appealing to local sports fans. But everyone knows that this is all in good fun as part of the long standing rivalry. Both sides are playing this game. But you still have to be careful.

So if your thinking of attempting something drastic, like Absolute Vodka did, to garner attention for your local or regional business be very carefully about how you do it and the potential pitfalls of offending others outside your immediate market area.

Tequila shooters anyone? Absolutely!

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