Saturday, March 24, 2012

Vodka, rape, trademarks, and export licenses are no joke (Belvedere Vodka)

This weekend's tempest in a teapot comes to us courtesy of the advertising agency who has the Belvedere Vodka account. Perhaps you heard that Belvedere recently posted an online ad with a smiling man grabbing a horrified woman from, um, behind. The caption? "Belvedere always goes down smoothly."

Most of us simply shook our heads at the boneheadedness of the advertising agency, and of Belvedere.

But an organization called RINJ (Rape Is No Joke) had a somewhat stronger response. Excerpts from RINJ's press release: Press Release - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - Toronto Canada - RINJ Campaign has announced an international boycott of Belvedere Vodka following that company's online publication and global dissemination of content that appears to recommend Belvedere Vodka's male customers drink to excess or at least to the point they begin to perform unlawful acts such as forcible confinement; sexual assault; forced fellatio; rape; aggravated assault; abuse of women; and violent bullying while drinking....

Belevedere Vodka's ad brand promotes a rape culture which is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. This advertisement of Belvedere encourages a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from disgusting sexual remarks to sexual touching, forcible confinement, terrorizing women, to rape itself.

Belvedere seems to advance that violence be seen as sexy and sexuality as violent and further wants to promote a concept that alcohol drinking favourably leads to sexual assault and rape.

RINJ's recommended punishment?

"Entities and organizations seeking to expand that rape culture to include all the world must be destroyed.

"Inasmuch as communities have authorized the licensing and existence of liquor manufacturers such as Belevedere, those communities can and must take those licenses away.

""RINJ urges every nation to ban the sale of Belvedere Vodka and to rescind any and all trade marks, business licenses, export licenses and further urges that any and all food/drug/liquor substance/content approvals be withdrawn forthwith.

"RINJ further urges a global and indefinite boycott of Belvedere Vodka."

Now the likelihood of any government banning the sale of Belvedere Vodka or voiding its trademarks because of an online ad is highly unlikely. But perhaps RINJ is miffed because of something else that Belvedere did:

My name is Charles Gibb and I am the President of Belvedere Vodka. I would like to personally apologize for the offensive post that recently appeared on our Facebook page.

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.

As an expression of our regret over this matter we have made a donation to RAINN (America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.)

I don't know if RAINN and RINJ are on speaking terms, but based upon my organizational experience, it could be very likely that RINJ could be miffed that RAINN got money and they didn't.

Speaking of rain, that reminds one of an older Belvedere Vodka commercial.
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