Remember the brief history of this Belvedere ad? The ad, reading “Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smooth,” and pictured a visibly upset woman being pulled down into the lap of a dude with the skeeviest smile ever, was posted last week on the vodka company’s Facebook page. Once it (immediately) started catching flak, it was taken down. The ad, which unsubtly evokes sexual assault, was more than in bad taste. And as Adweek noted, stands out from their other line of ads that tend to “err on the side of faux-elegance.”
It turns out they were erring on the side of “faux legal” too, since the picture they used is actually stolen from a Funny Or Die video, “Awkward Moments,” and the actress pictured, Alicyn Packard, isn’t happy about it. Way to double-down on your douchitude, Belvedere. Nothing really brings home an ad promoting lack of consent than sourcing it nonconsensually! Packard is suing Belvedere for negligent infliction of emotional distress and misappropriation of likeness, and says “To be affiliated with an ad that’s so offensive to so many has just been horrible. I just want to distance myself from the ad as much as possible.”
Belvedere has apologized for the ad on its Facebook page, with company president Charles Gibb posting a personal apology and saying it should never have happened. Gibb said, “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,” and announced a donation to RAINN. But Packard has yet to hear an apology from the company. Plus, the Facebook comments on every one of their “Goes Down Smooth”-related posts are filled with triggering, misogynistic, rape apologists, so…maybe work on that?
This revelation brings up several questions. Since it surfaced on Facebook, was this ad ever intended for official use? Does its sloppy design and frightening misogyny mean it was just someone’s quick idea for Facebook “likes”? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time sexual assault would be used to push products, and unfortunately won’t be the last.