Update April 2, 2012
I removed the "rape" ad picture which was originally at the top of this post today. I figured that if a major company published an ad for public consumption and general distribution with no copy write notice then it was fair game under the Canadian "fair use" laws for reproduction. I'm very careful about vetting everything that I put up on my blog and checking for copyright use or restriction of use since I'm very respectful of content and especially small blog original content. I discovered today via Huffington post that the big time ad agency for the Vodka company had purportedly stolen online video without the permission or knowledge of the owners and modified one of the frames for their own purposes changing its original intent i.e. the ad which I'd displayed so I decided to occupy a higher moral ground than the company which had originally published the offending ad although the Globe & Mail still has it in their archives and has not issued at this time a correction or apology. You can watch the original video in the link below and notice that the real context is totally different than what the ad implies.
By now everyone knows that the Belvedere Vodka Company which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA launched the opening salvos in their new marketing campaign (?) “rape is fun” with the implicit comment “and especially after a drinking a few shots of our product” last Friday (March 23, 2012); however, they had to retreat after a counter barrage from the general public with feminist groups leading the charge. The company removed the offensive commercial the same day and on their website, the company president, Charles Gibb stated “(the ad) is completely inappropriate and contrary to the values of the company.” They also made a generous donation to RAINN, the non profit anti-sexual violence group called Rape Abuse & Incest National Network. According to the Globe & Mail newspaper, the company had outsourced its digital marketing since 2010 to a marketing agency, Last Exit which is based in New York City. Branding is very important to companies and commercials such as this one would not be released without approval from senior management after many strategy sessions and research including focus groups.
The Last Exit agency on its website says “As experts in the digital medium, we combine strategic insight and creative excellence to drive our clients' businesses forward through accountable marketing campaigns, delivered with a no-nonsense, straightforward and professional attitude” and “Results are everything and the rapidly evolving world of digital demands a unique plurality and versatility of skills and knowledge. Last Exit continues to meet these challenges by building a team of renowned industry experts from brand strategy and identity, research and analytics, ad planning and creative development, social media and mobile, experience marketing and PR, user experience design and technology.” While there appears to be some ambiguity in the source of the particular commercial, the target group – young white middle class males – must have shown acceptance in focus groups to the suggestion that drunkenness is an excuse for sexual aggression and women are just getting what they deserve and/or really subconsciously want due to their behaviour. The Toronto slutwalk started when a police officer said that if women didn’t want to be raped then they shouldn’t dress like sluts. This is a typical “blame the victim” justification. Still in the world of macho ad agencies, someone must have had second thoughts. I thought that by 2012 some feminist reflection must have infiltrated these bastions of male privilege. Sometimes I think that we live in a post feminist reactionary period fronted by pink dressed Republican wives who stand by their man and bake cookies for the cause. This is not the first time that rape has been used to advertise products. Dolce & Gabbana, the Italian luxury fashion house, in their infamous “gang bang” campaign used it to flog their wares with a significant increase in sales. Perhaps this was a source of inspiration to these jerks.
For further study:
An article by Charlotte Hilton Anderson on the D&G gang rape print ad entitled “Dolce & Gabbana say Women like it Rough” which is based on a research report in the The Journal of Consumer Research .