Swine Flu Satire Sinks Schweppes Campaign
Schweppes released in the UK what was to be viewed as an ad that took a humorous and light hearted approach to advertising by making consumers laugh about serious, darker issues that they are currently facing. The image is titled ‘how to get a seat on the tube’ and depicts a man seated in an empty carriage wearing a sombrero and holding a box of tissues, reminding people that “Swine Flu” originated in Mexico. The ad caused outrage in Mexico and was pulled immediately, running only for one day in the Times paper after discussions between holding company Coca-cola and the Mexican Embassy.
Behind the news:
Strains of influenza have often been named after countries, but never one’s own: there is no “Spanish Flu” in Spain or “English Flu” in England. This ad seems to play on the idea of a Mexican flu, however…
Mexico suffered terrible human and economic damage following the first swine flu outbreak and in the aftermath was at pains to repair its image as an alluring tourist destination. It clearly didn’t need a global brand reminding people that this was initially a “Mexican flu”.
To its credit, the Coca-cola company quickly understood the issue and took swift corrective action.
For some reason, we’ve recently seen an epidemic of global brands getting on the wrong side of Mexico, starting with Burger King’s unfortunate Texican burger advertising in Spain (see here) : the internet spreads advertising faster than the flu travels the world.