Thing about the digital and social networking age is that something can go viral in an instant, and if it happens to be negative it can cause a huge backlash. The Polish company Belvedere Vodka learned the hard way that social media and an asinine marketing campaign don't mix.
Apparently, someone thought it would be funny to shoot the above ad of a frightened young woman being grabbed from behind by a leering young man, with the obvious sexual connotations in the text. It was posted to their 10,263 Twitter followers and 916,970 Facebook fans, many of whom were obviously outraged. Within an hour it was removed from both sites, and eventually there was an apology of sorts:
But not enough of one, for some:
“FAIL. Never touching your product ever again."
“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.”
According to Forbes, the company did make a full apology on its website, and has also donated generously to RAINN, an organization dedicated to anti-sexual violence. Belvedere is also looking into how this happened in the first place, though no-one has been fired yet.
Rape is not funny, and neither is the ad.
It seems that Moet Hennessy, the parent company of Belvedere Vodka, actually stole the photo used in their tasteless ad, and the actress, Alicyn Packard, is suing.
The lawsuit, filed in a California state court in Los Angeles, seeks compensatory and punitive damages.[snip]
According to the complaint, the photo of Packard was a stolen from a video made by her company Strickly Viral Productions.
In that video, she and the man - her friend and Strickly Viral owner Chris Strickland - are asked by her parents to recreate a pose from a photo taken when they were young.
According to the Hollywood Reporter,
"While Defendants have apologized to nearly everyone else, and admitted the offensiveness of the advertisement," says the lawsuit, "they have yet to apologize to the plaintiff, whose image she says they used without permission to sell vodka, and who has now been unwillingly made the face of the Belvedere advertising campaign that jokes about rape, and has been put front and center in the worldwide controversy created by Defendants."
Not cool to use someone's photo without their permission, and in California (as in other states) it's illegal.
The photo on their Facebook page.