Friday, November 10, 2006

Absolut Vodka 'sex trade' ad pulled in Germany

Stockholm (dpa) - Swedish state-owned spirits and wine company Vin&Sprit has pulled an ad that marketed its best-selling brand Absolut Vodka in Germany over concerns it could be "misunderstood," the company said Wednesday.

Billboards in the ad campaign in Hamburg, northern Germany displayed traces of red lipstick against a white background, with the slogan "Absolut Herbertstrasse."

Although the Herbertstrasse in Hamburg's red light district is well-known for its sex trade, Absolut Vodka mangement said the company had not linked that street with the sex trade, but rather that it was a well-known tourist site.

Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter reported on the campaign in its Wednesday edition, and reactions flowed during the day. Among those who questioned the campaign was the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman.

Ombudsman Claes Borgstrom sparked a heated debate earlier this year when he called for Sweden to boycott the World Cup finals in Germany over fears that prostitution and trafficking of women for sexual purposes would surge during the event - those fears later proved unfounded.

Sweden enacted a law in 1999 which makes it a criminal offence to purchase sexual favours. Swedish law does not punish the prostitute who offers these services.

Vin&Sprit began to market Absolut Vodka in the United States in 1979, and sales have since surged worldwide.

The company has won several awards for advertisements that have often featured a bottle and the word Absolut Vodka in various combinations.

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