Another one for the ‘Plain dumb marketing’ files: Belvedere Vodka’s apology leaves a bad taste
If you were to sum up the philosophy of spirits marketers in two words, surely, it would be: sex sells. Could social media change all that? If the Belvedere Vodka PR mess that erupted on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend is any indication, then the creative guys better figure out some new bright ideas to sell booze and spirits.
What happened? On Friday, as Ad Age reported, Belvedere Vodka posted to its Twitter feed a new bit of creative that, understandably, created quite a stir, showing a frightened woman struggling to free herself from the arms of a grinning man. The post of course has since been deleted, but the image lives on, multiplying on Twitter as it always does whenever there’s a controversy. Here it is, thanks to the hundreds of you who’ve Tweeted it:
And so another tone-deaf attempt at edgy advertising triggers (rightfully) a fierce response from the public growing tired of these
sexist predatory ads. Belvedere and its agency, Arnell Group, spent the weekend making apologies – turns out, the first one was flubbed – and even a donation to RAINN, described as “America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.” Meanwhile, critics are still piling on on Twitter and the latest apology is getting hammered on its Facebook page as well. Also, the Facebook Wall is filling up with some serious finger-wagging. If you were wondering if the public still finds such sexist ads as funny, well, here’s your answer:
It’s pretty clear, Belvedere is getting a one-day boost to its fan numbers with people joining the group simply to vent.
You’re probably wondering: where does this blunder sit in the annals of corporate social media screw-ups? Brands like Molson and Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been hammered in the past for using social media channels to spread sexist messaging. The difference in those cases is it was the fans doing all the talking, and embarrassing the brands. This one is somewhat unique in that it was a message proposed by the agency and approved by Belvedere’s marketing team. It definitely would have made our book in the “Plain Dumb Marketing” chapter. Maybe it’s time we thought of a second edition.