Absolut sparks controversy in Korea by using protest imagery in new ad

21-Dec-2016 Intellasia | Foxnews | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Absolut vodka is known for its advertisements that feature everyt things in the shape of its bottles but a new South Korean ad has irked political protesters and has some calling for a brand boycott.

Political unrest has been prevalent throughout the country since South Korean president Park Gyen-hye was impeached earlier this month. Massive street protests followed the impeachment, with more than a million people flooding the streets of Seoul in an attempt to convince the government to officiall end Gyen-hye’s term in office.

Absolut, a Swedish brand now owned by French liquor magnate Pernod Ricard, decided to get involved in the controversy and turned one of the protest’s most iconic images into a vodka ad.

Utilising a time-lapse image featuring hundreds of thousands of candle-carrying protesters, the company molded the crowd into its famous bottle shape.

“ABSOLUT KOREA: The Future is Yours to Create,” the ad read.

As soon as the ad started appearing online last week, many spoke out against Absolut utilising the country’s pollitical unrest for financial gain.

But this isn’t the first time Absolut has courted controversy for one of its politically charged ads.

In 2008, the vodka producer issud an apology after releasing an advertisement showing California, Texas and additional southwestern states as part of Mexico as part of its “In an Absolut World” marketing run. That campaign was supposed idealise political and historical events in a new context.


Absolut issued a statement in which they denied having an agenda of “anti-American sentiment.”

As for the current controversy over the South Korean bottle, the company has yet to speak out. According to Munchies, Absolut has changed the settings on its Facebook post so that others can’t embed the image.

“The post made on the brand’s local fb-page addresses something, which is currently high on many Korean’s mind, including many of those who follow Absolut Vodka on fb.

Social media generate engagement, whether positive, negative or neutral. However, as far as this post is concerned, we respect that a large majority of consumers have reacted positively.

We are of course sorry that some consumers have felt upset about the post, and we’ll take learnings from that going forward.



Category: Korea

Print This Post

Comments are closed.