Belvedere Vodka Retracts Offensive Ad, Flubs Apology

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Belvedere celebrates its vodka’s superior drinkability — but a new ad for the liquor producer is hardly in good taste.

The ad, which reads “Unlike some people, Belvedere goes down smoothly,” got its share of outraged reactions on Twitter, where the ad first appeared as part of a new marketing campaign. Featuring a prominent photo of a man grabbing a terrified-looking woman from behind, the not-so-subtle double entendre about the vodka’s taste ended up sounding like sexual assault to most who saw the ad.

(LIST: Top 10 Tasteless Ads)

Belvedere ended up taking the ad down within an hour, reported Forbes, but its efforts to calm those who thought the ad made light of rape and sexual assault were hardly satisfying. Belvedere’s first attempt at an apology fell short of its mark:


The nonapology drew its own share of ire, with many assuming the vodkamaker failed to fully appreciate the offensiveness of its ad’s message and instead put the burden of misunderstanding on its viewers.

The senior staff of the company eventually issued a fuller apology, saying the ad was “absolutely inconsistent with our values and beliefs” and promising to donate to a women’s-support charity. It was a step in the right direction, but the company stumbled slightly in its execution.

When asked by a New York Observer reporter which charity would receive its donation, Belvedere’s president mentioned RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) — but the link he included took the reporter to the personal Facebook page of a Singaporean Facebook member named Rain Chan. The link, to be sure, was fixed in a subsequent e-mail (the result of a copy-and-paste error) and directed users to RAINN’s official Facebook page.

Though the ad’s inflammatory nature is hard to forget, RAINN appreciated the overture in the end: “Nice to see a company that not only undoes its mistake but looks for a way to do good afterwards,” reads a post on the organization’s Facebook page. But will the tasteless ad cause a nasty hangover for the company?

MORE: Cupcake-Flavored Vodka: Delicious or Disastrous?