The Current State of Alcohol Marketing: Case #43

BelvedereMARKETING BOY #1: Dude, turn the fucking TV off, we have to get this new ad comped and up on Facebook.

MARKETING BOY #2: I know, I know. Chill. (clicks remote)….Hey, pass me the bottle of Goose Juice.

MARKETING BOY #1: (passes bottle of Grey Goose to colleague) Pour me another too.

MARKETING BOY #2: What do we have so far?

MARKETING BOY #1: Nothing.

MARKETING BOY #2: Hey, man, what happened with the girl you were hangin with all night. Sally? Sandra? What was her name?

MARKETING BOY #1: (throws back another shot of vodka). Huh? Who?

MARKETING BOY #2: The girl at the bar, dude. Did you hit that?

MARKETING BOY #1: Hey, How about "Belvedere…Tell your Friends, but not your mom".

MARKETING BOY #2: That sucks…No, the chick at bar you were feeding drinks to? What happened there?

MARKETING BOY #1: Sissy. Her name was Sissy and nothing happened. Nada. She takes my drinks all night then takes off. Nothing. No pay back.

MARKETING BOY #2: That's totally lame, man. Dude, you gotta get up in their faces and tell'em what you need, what you want. You gotta feed'em the lines then get ready to hit it.

MARKETING BOY #1: Yeah, whatever….(pours another shot of Grey Goose). She wasn't gonna be down for anything no matter how many drinks or lines I fed her. (throws back the shot). Waste of time. What a B…

MARKETING BOY #2: Dude! I got it. Get this down….

Sometimes I look at alcohol ad campaigns in print, in digital format and on TV and wonder to myself just what was the thought process that went into creating them. Having worked on a number of them I can tell you that, at least in my case, it's a guided process that begins with the goal of trying to drive home brand messaging without forcing the reader of the ad to think deeply about the messaging.

The above ad for Belvedere Vodka that ran on Facebook for an hour before all hell broke loose and the company was forced to take it down and apologize, falls into that category of offensive and crass that too often defines low-end alcohol marketing and sometimes even effects wine marketing and product development. How could this ad possibly have been developed, let alone be broadcast on Facebook? The only explanation I can imagine is that some very young, very stupid, very misogynistic boys somehow fell into the job of managing the creative for Beledere's social media advertising and mistook crass and offensive for creative. I suspect they must be out of a client today.

But this very ugly campaign for Belvedere Vodka drives home an important point that sometimes escapes or doesn't occur to marketers. Not only do we have a responsibility, especially where alcohol marketing is concerned, to pursue ethical and socially responsible messaging in our brand marketing, but we also have a responsibility to our peers. When something like this actually makes it into the carefully watched and monitored world of alcohol marketing, the fall out effects not just the brand, but the category.

Again, wine marketing is, for many reasons, rarely the source for irresponsible marketing messages, let alone messages that condone rape. But that doesn't mean that crass and irresponsible product marketing doesn't sometimes infest the wine industry. And we should be vigilant in assuring wine marketing never takes a similar route as too much of today's beer and spirits marketing. The consequences can be great.


5 Responses

  1. Samantha Dugan - March 26, 2012

    I’m nowhere near being ultra-sensitive or PC but this? This is so horrifically offensive that I can’t even find the words to properly articulate how angry this made me. The only people who could possibly find this funny are either monsters themselves or have never had their sisters, mothers, girlfriends or daughters fall victim to one. They’re lucky, lots aren’t. Disgusting…

  2. Tom Wark - March 26, 2012

    I had to look at this ad for a long time because I didn’t think I understood the message. I knew it couldn’t possibly be what it appeared to be—advocacy of violence. So I kept looking at the ad trying to figure out what I was missing. Then I realized…It was exactly what it appeared to be. Stunning!!

  3. Wine Harlots - March 26, 2012

    Utter disbelief.
    When I first glanced at it I thought it was a internet meme.
    Belvedere = sexual assault
    Clearly the brand I want to be drinking…
    Take care,
    Nannette Eaton

  4. Marcia M - March 26, 2012

    I saw it too. Was utterly offended and ‘turned the page.’ It was so out of line, completely disgusting I felt certain the backlash would be huge and it would be removed. However, I’m pretty sure I saw it someplace else besides Facebook. But I can’t remember where…. Undoubtedly there are other places they’ve had to remove it from.
    I think the wine industry is pretty safe from falling into this type (even a drastically milder version) of marketing trap. It’s so wholly wrong, so wholly in the wrong in the message the industry would want to send — ever!

  5. Franklin Mint - April 1, 2012

    I imagine that the intern at the agency they hired who posted this was promoted or fired.

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