Liquor brand Absolut Vodka is facing strong criticism from many customers for using the ongoing political turmoil in South Korea as the backdrop in its new advertisement. The advert was released on the brand's Facebook page on Saturday, 10 December – a day after South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached by an overwhelming majority in the 300-seat National Assembly.
The scandal-tainted president's impeachment was preceded by weeks of protests by citizens for her ouster. The liquor brand used the protests in the advert, saying: "The future is yours to decide." The footnote on the print advert says: "Enjoy responsibly."
Some Facebook users questioned the connection between the liquor and the rallies that took place in capital Seoul a few weeks back. One person urged the company to think before using a political crisis for any advertisement campaign. Another user said that the advert would have been appropriate if the gathering represented a world cup game or soccer, but connecting political crisis to the beverage made no sense.
Yonhap news agency reported some local consumers complaining about the advert, calling it inappropriate, while some even accused the liquor firm of taking advantage of the political unrest in the country.
The news agency quoted one of the consumers as saying in a Facebook post: "I feel horrible and shameful that I held a candle so that I could be used as an advertisement for an alcoholic beverage manufacturer."
Another person, a teacher, wrote: "Sewol [Seoul] memorial used in an advertising campaign? Ouch, that won't do well for sales in Korea."
The political turmoil began in South Korea about two months back after Park's close confidante Choi Soon-sil was indicted in a corruption scandal. Choi was later arrested for using her influence for personal benefits.
Park was also blamed for supporting Choi in the influence-peddling scandal and the former president had even apologised for resting faith on wrong people. She, however, denied all other allegations linked to the corruption scandal.
Not convinced with her denials and apologies, hundreds of thousands of people in the country took to the streets to demand her immediate removal, but she did not give in. Finally, she announced her willingness to step down as per the decision of the ruling and opposition parties.