Dear CMO:

Before you duck beneath your desk at the prospect of having to endure a xenophobic rant about fences, immigration and fluid campaign promises, relax. I won’t do it. I promise. Not political. Just business. Marketing even. Are we OK? Great.

Did you see this ad running south o’ the border by Absolut? If you haven’t, turn your computer on. It’s being flogged everywhere, from Drudge to the LA Times to elsewhere. An interesting thing about this whole dust-up: the ad is running in Mexico and promotes vodka no less, but regardless of whatever massive boost in sell-through our Mexican friends can muster, it seems to have offended many north o’ the border. Herein lies another case of unintended consequences.

Mexicans, so we’re told, are nationalistic people with great pride in their country. They like the idea of the “reconquista,” probably more in the figurative than literal sense. After all, it’s always fun to poke at the big guy. We get this a lot in the US. And it’s generally OK with us, too.

Unfortunately, illegal immigration is a hot button in the most hotly contested US presidential election in our lifetimes. And the vast majority of said-illegal aliens are, regretably, from Mexico. This rubs a little salt (and a wedge of lime) onto a raw spot for many American voters.

The next domino to fall is that online media makes all ads global. Look at the several hundred comments on the LA Times article in a few hours to validate how fast news spreads. And, if you needed further encouragement, Drudge , the arbiter of all that is true in our time, has it on his site.

Lastly — and here’s the marketing lesson, so thank you for your patience — the US is the single largest consumer of premium vodka in the world. The US is Absolut’s best customer. By a long shot. Mexico, on el otro mano, doesn’t drink much premium vodka. If the ad doubles case sales in Mexico, would it counterbalance a 1% drop in US sales? Probably not. Never mind a 10% drop. How did French wine fare under similar circumstances?

Will this too-clever-by-half ad aimed at the Mexican market help or hurt Absolut? Is offending your best customer ever a really creative and fantastic idea?