Belvedere Vodka released this online ad in 2012. The image features a woman being grabbed by a man from behind, with the phrase, “Unlike some people, Belvedere goes down smoothly.” Many people were outraged by the advertisement, pointing to the ad’s sexual undertones, particularly, the woman’s unwillingness and the man’s attempt to hold her against her will. The company quickly deleted the post, but screenshots of the advertisement remain on the Internet. A couple days after the ad’s publication, Belvedere issued an apology, but for many, it was seen as too little, too late.
What are the connotations of this ad–the interaction between the man and the woman as well as the ad’s tag line, “goes down smoothly”?
“Rape culture” is a concept suggesting that rape and other forms of sexual violence are normal and accepted by society. Do you think this ad normalizes rape or sexual violence against women? Why? Why not?
Are you surprised that a company as large as Belvedere Vodka would publish this ad in the first place?
Is there other media you can think of that promote disempowering messages/representations of women?