Learn From History Or Repeat It
No matter how many times a company tries and fails to use frat-boy humor someone is always standing ready to try again. And again. And again.
When do you suppose people will understand there simply is nothing funny about rape? Certainly there is no reason to create a marketing image poking fun at a vicious, horrible and inexcusable crime, but it happens. In fact, it happened today.
Belvedere Vodka has (or perhaps had) an effective social media marketing campaign using both Facebook and Twitter to promote its message, tout its brand and, of course, sell vodka. Today, however the company posted the following branded message as both a Tweet and a Facebook status update:
Clearly the implication is that if someone is “unwilling” to go down, we should force them and laugh about it. Or am I perceiving this image wrong? Perhaps I am getting the wrong message, but if I am there are thousands of others who are also getting it wrong judging by the reaction on their Twitter stream. All of this follows a sort-of apology issued by the company via Twitter about an hour after the postings:
@jaclynf @belvederevodka I want an explanation instead of a vapid apology. How does this ad get through so many gatekeepers?
@jkfecke Rapists love @BelvedereVodka, and Belvedere Vodka loves rapists. Everyone else pretty much hates both groups.
@thunder_maker Just called the manager at my local liquor store & at his request, sent him a link to the @belvederevodka ad. He was horrified.
@FeministLetters Every time I see the @belvederevodka advert it gets more creepy. And every time I read the apology it seems more insufficient and misguided.
@jaclynf Also, @belvederevodka? Just FYI? ADVOCATING THE VIOLATION OF MY BODY IS NEVER GOING TO BE FUNNY. Ever. Under any circumstances.
Posting the advertisement in the first place was bad enough. The apology, if you can call it that, seems to have just made the situation worse:
“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.”
Talk about lack of sincerity. This fails to address the obvious flaw in their marketing system, says nothing about accountability and has done next to nothing to make what had been loyal fans feel better about buying their product.
Social media marketing is a powerful tool, but like any tool if you use it the wrong way someone is liable to get hurt.