Vodka Company Apologizes For Sexual Assault Insinuation In Ad

Belvedere company apparently needed a social network tongue-lashing to teach it that it’s not okay to pump out ads that make light of sexual assault. The ad, captioned “Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly,” featured a grinning jackass grabbing a fearful woman.

CNN reports company executives apologized for the ad after the internet complained. Here’s what Belvedere’s president had to say on the matter:

“It should never have happened. I am currently investigating the matter to determine how this happened and to be sure it never does so again. The content is contrary to our values and we deeply regret this lapse.”

Belvedere made a donation to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network to drive the apology home. The cynical might wonder whether or not the campaign and apology made up a coordinated effort to draw attention to the brand.

Vodka ad draws anti-rape controversy [CNN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. mauispiderweb says:

    No matter … Belvedere got their 15 mins.

  2. TBGBoodler says:

    Today: “I’ll never buy Belvedere vodka!”

    Six months from now: “Hmmm… Belvedere vodka…. I’ve heard of that! Must be good. I’ll buy it!”

  3. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Just cynical marketing.

  4. deathbecomesme says:

    Steve J: “It’s not a big deal!”

  5. OSAM says:

    I didn’t see this as “rape” but as in “surprise buttsechs”. Maybe that’s me.

    She looks surprised, not afraid. And he looks far too smiley to be aggressive.

  6. eezy-peezy says:

    Reminds me of the Springmaid sheet ad – “A buck well spent on Springmaid sheets”

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Ah but that ad was recalled not for its salacious tagline, but due to the racist connotations between ‘buck’ and Native Americans.

      Jus’ pointing that out.

  7. madcatcasey says:

    Ah yes, the old “currently investigating” fake apology. Rest easy, I’m sure they’ll get to the bottom of it someday.

  8. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Just another assault on women. With all that’s been going on in that arena, seems like they are just cashing in on the trend of relegating women to something that you’d find stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

  9. jayphat says:

    I didn’t read this as rape so much as just plain old oral sechs. Alot of fury over nothing IMO but whatever, now I’ve heard of the vodka. The ad has done it’s job.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      Perhaps you need to be informed that forced oral sex is still sexual assault, i.e. rape?

      • OutPastPluto says:

        Expanding the scope of a term to suit your personal political agenda does nothing but trivialize that thing and make it more likely that the “genuine article” is taken less seriously.

        • wasabirobot says:

          Are you kidding? You think forcing your penis into an unwilling person’s mouth isn’t sexual assault/rape? Well, the law and common decency would disagree with you.

        • MMD says:

          Diminishing sexual assault based on your irrational perception that one kind is somehow less traumatic than another makes you an ignorant misogynist.

      • Jawaka says:

        What does any of this have to do with oral sex or is there another male cropped out of the front of the pic?

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      Ridiculousness of your argument aside, I’m curious as to why aren’t you able to spell ‘sex’.

  10. The_IT_Crone says:

    It’s not good enough. Rape does NOT make for a funny ad.

    /not surprised at the high number of pro-rape defenders on Consumerist.

    • 401k says:

      I know, right?! If they can actually have a sense of humor about this then they must be willing to rape you, your mother, daughter, and cow at once.

      Rape is never funny.

      But seriously…try to picture me raping a sad clown while wearing a shark costume and try not to laugh.

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        With at least 1/4 of American women being raped, I’ll give your clown/shark rape a slightly less change of having occurred. Therefore I can see how you’d find it funny because you’re not laughing at the suffering of others. But it’s stupid to tell women to get a sense of humor about this ad. It’s a reality for us to be worried about date rape, and always having to be on guard- especially when drinking.

        But good to know when it happens, it’s funny!

        When are we going to make lynching ads and think that they’re hilarious?

        • Doubting thomas says:

          at least 1/4? I highly doubt the accuracy of that statement. I would believe that 1/4 will be sexually harassed and/or assaulted, but not 1 in 4 raped.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            i don’t know the exact statistics. probably because plenty of them go unreported. i didn’t report either of the times i was raped, once because i was underage and had snuck out to a party and the second time because i knew the chance of having it believed was not only very low, but also because i was all the way across the country from home when it happened and i didn’t want to be stuck there for however long dealing with it.
   has a lot of rape/incest/sexual assault survivors sharing a glimpse into their stories. it’s made abundantly clear to me from my experience and from those survivors, that “just sexual assault” is just as traumatic in many cases

          • MMD says:

            Please note that you’re basing things entirely on your opinion, with nothing even resembling fact or corroboration to back you up. If you’re going to refute the number, you’re going to have to do better than that if you’d like to be taken seriously and not be mistaken for a troll.

            • Kuonji says:

              “Please note that you’re basing things entirely on your opinion, with nothing even resembling fact or corroboration to back you up.”

              I hope you are talking to “The_IT_Crone” since they are the one who initially stated that ‘1 in 4’ statistic with nothing to back it up. All that the next person said was “Hmm. That doesn’t seem right” and suddenly it is that person that needs to cite their figures? Right.

              • MMD says:

                The 1-in-4 statistic is a widely reported statistic. Doubting Thomas cites only his own brain and thinks that’s enough. Both he and you ignore Catastrophe Girl’s very valid point about unreported assaults (which are acknowledged in the 1-in-4 estimate).

                Is that number infallible? No. But it’s not as arbitrary as one dude on the internet’s subjective and dismissive opinion.

                • SavijMuhdrox says:

                  The 1 in 4 statistic is from a study done on college campuses in 1985. If a woman regretted having sex because the man had given her drugs or alcohol, it was counted as rape.

                  Google it and you have your answer. I won’t post it because I’d rather you troll somewhere else then yell at people who simply call something into question.

                  Regardless, rape is bad, and this ad is stupid. Both the survey and the ad make a statement that jars people from their secluded worlds. One to bring attention to the plight of women who don’t report rape and one to get you to notice a brand of vodka. I’m more willing to overlook the 1-in-4 claim’s veracity because it helps to ease a social problem.

                  As for the vodka.. they probably should have gone for class over moron… or the shark/clown/sodomy..

      • theduckay says:

        Okay…but the ad wasn’t depicting you raping a sad clown while wearing a shark costume, so that’s not even applicable to the issue. It was a man and a woman. Like you said, “Rape is never funny” so why are we giving passes here to find it funny?

    • Doubting thomas says:

      Phrases like pro-rape are why you will not be taken seriously anywhere. There are a couple of people on here that defended the add, my best guess is that they are trolling looking for a hyperbolic response from some easily offended type. Good for you you gave it to them.
      I know lots of misogynistic guys, and a few girls. I know a couple of guys who will find this ad hilarious. None of them would ever actually rape anyone, and I don’t know anyone who could honestly be called pro-rape.

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        Gaslighting, how cute. Don’t forget to pat my widdle head while you’re at it.

        If you have a better term for defending and denying rape, please share. I’m sure we can all come to a happy little consensus. Perhaps we can go all Santorum-y and go with “Gift Wraping” since rape babies are “gifts?”

        Side question: you don’t think anyone is pro-rape. So is rape something that doesn’t happen? Or do you just not believe date rape is “real” rape, therefore defending it isn’t defending “real” rape?

        • Doubting thomas says:

          correcting an obviously false statement is not gas lighting. You seem to have a problem with accuracy. I also never said no-one was pro rape, obviously there are rapists out there and they obviously approve of their own actions. What I said was that I didn’t know anyone that was pro rape, and that calling a commenter who doesn’t share your strict views on the subject pro rape is dishonest, ignorant hurts your argument because when you base your argument on a false premise it discredits you and your argument.

          • MMD says:

            And yet, below you discredit statistics on rape based on your subjective interpretation!
            Pot, meet kettle.

      • theduckay says:

        “I know a couple of guys who will find this ad hilarious. None of them would ever actually rape anyone”

        It doesn’t matter if they would “ever actually rape anyone” (not that you know that for sure). Anyone who finds this ad “hilarious” is sick. Maybe its not your intention, but your phrasing seems to indicate that misogyny is somewhat acceptable…that there are people who just like that and that we should accept it. The phrase “pro-rape” is, of course, a bit of an exaggeration but I don’t think that any misogynistic person who finds this ad (or rape/sexual assault) anywhere close to humorous needs to be defended in any way, even from a slightly hyperbolic phrase.

        • flychinook says:

          During the most recent Super Bowl, Dannon released a TV ad for yogurt in which a woman punched John Stamos after he attempted to eat her yogurt. The ad did fairly well with audiences, with many finding it humorous.

          Do those people support domestic violence?

        • El_Fez says:

          Have you ever laughed at a comedy about murder? That’s a pretty horrific act.
          Do you think Hogan’s Heroes is funny? The Nazis were way more horrific than rape.

          Everything can be depicted as funny without actually condoning the act.

    • partofme says:

      Humor is a funny thing. It respects nearly no boundaries and can sneak in almost anywhere unannounced. Something can be deeply tragic… yet also have a strange sense of humor. That’s why acknowledging that something is funny does not imply that one condones the surrounding context. One can laugh at Boondock Saints, where they kill the cat (and ask “Is it dead?” as the wall is covered in a large splatter of blood), without condoning animal cruelty. I’m sure you’ve laughed at something and then said, “That’s horrible….ly funny.” Would you want every instance of laughing to define what you thought was acceptable? Probably not. It’s simply not a sufficient condition.

      For the record, I actually didn’t laugh at this ad. I didn’t find it amusing. (I did make a pretty unfunny joke above… but someone wouldn’t have to be pro-erectile dysfunction in order to laugh at it.)

  11. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    It appears Wesley T. Owens is all grown up and going for a felony. Mr. Belvedere has failed to direct his moral sensibilities.

  12. Invader Zim says:

    What a stupid idea for an ad. Yeah I wont buy it. Nope

  13. chicagojay says:

    It is George Bush’s fault. If Obama were elected, we would not see this sort of thing. Or maybe just part of the war on women? Seriously folks, relax. Looks like horseplay to me, not rape for christsakes.

  14. ExtraCelestial says:

    I think had they used a different picture (maybe a couple sitting together with the guy holding flowers or something and the woman giving him the stink eye) it wouldn’t have been nearly as offensive. I think the caption is kind of worth a chuckle (at least the no oral after marriage thing has been done so much that it’s pretty acceptable to joke about it), it’s the aggressive picture that makes it off-putting and takes it in another direction.

    I think as someone else suggested the picture was supposed to be about uncomfortable (but sanctioned) anal sex than rape. That was not clearly conveyed however

  15. A Feral Ginger says:

    Maybe it’s just because of my profession, where “going down smoothly” refers to an uneventful anesthetic induction, but the ad makes me think of something besides vodka in her drink.

  16. Vox Republica says:

    The joke would actually be pretty tolerable if the accompanying photograph depicted a fella and a lady in a neutral, not rape-y position (e.g., seated next to one another) where his facial expression is one of hopeful inquiry and hers is a combination of indifference and mild disgust–and then ran the exact same ad next to it with the gender roles reversed.

    Take that, patriarchy.

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      I agree. That’s what I was trying to say as well. It’s really the photo that killed it

  17. conquestofbread says:

    I didn’t really get what the joke was at first. I thought maybe the guy had really funky tasting semen and she was running away to barf, before I noticed he was grabbing her.

    That’s not such a bad ad campaign… “Ladies, a shot of this (holds up vodka) will make a shot of that go down a lot smoother later. ” (suggestive smile, wink)

  18. crispyduck13 says:

    There’s quite a few people here who’ve commented that they’ve “never heard of that brand before, ad is doing it’s job,” etc. I find that kind of surprising, but whatever. Belvedere is the vodka brand of choice for the following people:

    A. Rich people with (much) more money than taste.
    B. Regular people who want to appear rich. Also with no taste.
    C. 20 something investment bankers bros who go out en masse and hold half the club hostage with their obnoxious, loud, self-important partying and tie up all the damn waitresses with their bottle service. You guessed it – no taste.

    Looks like they were targeting group C with that ad, and it was well thought out and executed for the intended audience. Those are exactly the type of arrogant assholes who would find it mildly amusing. I call bullshit on this president fellow’s comment.

  19. chicagojay says:

    No matter … Belvedere got their 15 mins.

  20. gman863 says:

    Given the negative buzz, Belvedere executives are now collaborating with a low-rent celebrity to have a “viral” party at the home of a mid-sized town’s coolest couple to increase sales.

    Sorry, scratch that, Krusty the Clown already did that on last night’s episode of The Simpsons.