The dateline on this story is not a mistake. The year is 2012, and a prominent brand has made a joke out of sexual assault in its advertising.
Belvedere vodka drew an outpouring of derision on social-media websites after it posted an ad on Facebook and Twitter on Friday. The ad showed a young man smiling as he grabs a woman from behind. The woman has a frightened look on her face and appears to be trying to get away. The text of the ad read: “Unlike some people[,] Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”
The ad was removed by mid-afternoon and the company posted an apology. “We apologize to any of our fans who were offended,” messages on Facebook and Twitter said. “…We continue to be an advocate of safe and responsible drinking.”
The controversy is yet another illustration of how quickly a company can be held to account on social media for mistakes it makes – and how impossible it is on the Internet to erase those mistakes. A writer for a weekly paper in Washington, D.C., among others, saved a picture of the ad that circulated online, attracting further criticism and vows to boycott the brand.
“It is quite possibly the most offensive thing I have seen in a long time,” Florida beer writer Sean Nordquist wrote on Twitter in response to Belvedere’s apology.