For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, on March 23rd Belvedere Vodka distributed its new ad via Twitter and Facebook, and removed it about an hour later. The ad features a smiling man grabbing a terrified woman from behind, and the image is accompanied by the very tasteful line, “Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly.” Hilarious!
Photo via belvederevodka.com
What is so perplexing about the ad is that nothing about it says “high quality vodka.” The image is blurry and cheap, if we’re forgetting for a second about how it is so blatantly offensive, it is mind-boggling that this ad was ever approved. Belvedere doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to their advertisements. Their last and most notable ad series was shot by Terry Richardson, whose own reputation is tainted with accusations of sexual assault.
Belvedere tweeted the following apology after the ad hit the internet: “We apologize to any of our fans who were offended by our recent tweet. We continue to be an advocate of safe and responsible drinking.” Fair enough, but the ad didn’t necessarily highlight unsafe and irresponsible drinking. It makes fun of rape, a topic for which there shouldn’t be a grey area. The word, however, has been used inappropriately out of context, with phrases like “that final exam totally raped me” entering everyday vernacular. And while this use of the word is grossly misinformed, it still doesn’t, and shouldn’t, detract from the severity of the act.
Alicyn Packard, the actress in the awful ad, is currently suing Belvedere because the vodka company, on top of using the picture to joke about rape, also used the picture without her permission. (The photo is actually a screen cap from a video made by Packard’s company in which she and her friend were asked by her parents to recreate a photo taken when they were younger.) Did anybody at Belvedere think this ad through even a little bit?
For some bizarre and alarming reason, rape jokes have been permeating popular culture this season. (Check out Vulture.com’s supercut of sitcom rape jokes.) And incase there’s any doubt to the contrary: rape jokes are never okay. There’s enough of other things in the world to poke fun at.