Ethics Alarms

Ethics Dunces: Belvedere Vodka and Arnell

“Ethics Dunces” doesn’t really do these two organizations justice. Try “too dumb to live” and “too unethical to be trusted with sharp objects.”

Or vice-versa.

Marketing whizzes Arnell devised this hysterically funny vodka ad for Belvedere Vodka, showing a happily horny man sexually assaulting a terrified female victim. What fun! And such a witty tag line: “Unlike Some People, Belvedere Always Goes Down Smoothly.”

Goes down, get it?

It took about an hour after this juvenile, rape-friendly offal was posted on Twitter and Facebook for there to be such a negative reaction that even the bombed cretins at the vodka company were able to figure out something was wrong. So they pulled the ad, and apologized, kind of, tweeting,

“We apologize to any of our fans who were offended by our recent tweet. We continue to be an advocate of safe and responsible drinking.”

Uhhhhhhno. “We apologize to those who were offended”–a non-apology apology. Ethics strike two. “We continue to be an advocate of safe and responsible drinking”—what? These idiots still didn’t understand what they were supposed to be apologizing for!!!   Ethics Strike THREE!

You are a D-U-N-C-E!

Then some critics managed to explain it to them in firmly worded Facebook posts and tweets. “OOOOHHH! Like, the fact that the guy is forcing the woman to go down…like in raping her! THAT’S what all the fuss is about? Well, silly us. It that was a snake, it would have bitten us! Sure, now we get it! Yeah, yeah, yeah, that was a little edgy, wasn’t it? Okay, okay…NOW we know how to apologize for it!”

So the ethics-challenged vodka-heads at Belvedere sent out two apologies on Facebook, both in the time-honored tradition of people caught doing something that shows their wretched values who want to try to convince everyone, or at least everyone who’s a prospect to buy Syrian gold vacation futures, that they somehow managed to do something completely alien to their natures. First came this one:

“I am Jason Lundy, SVP of Global Marketing for Belvedere. Unfortunately a Facebook &Twitter posting was made today that has offended many of our fans and followers — and indeed the people who work here at Belvedere. The post is absolutely inconsistent with our values and beliefs and in addition to removing the offensive post we are committed to making sure that something like this doesn’t happen again.

“As an expression of our deep disappointment and regret, we are making a charitable donation to a women’s support cause. We deeply apologize to our fans & followers.”

Translation: “Even though I hired the outfit that came up with this slogan, and it was reviewed up and down the chain of command by all of us, including me, what we approved and didn’t see anything offensive about—even after the web started going crazy—was completely contrary to our values. Go figure. All I can think of as an explanation is that we all were possessed by the demon Pazuzu…you know, just like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” where she says all those dirty words and spits pea soup. So we’re removing that funny ad—OFFENSIVE!!! I meant offensive ad, because that’s what everyone says the ad is, so by golly, the customer is always right.  And we’re giving money to some women’s group or another, because we know that it’s those uptight broads who don’t get the joke in the ad…I mean the OFFENSIVE ad, and, as you know, money solves everything.”

That one wasn’t so convincing, so Belvedere brought out the Big Cheese himself to deliver a real apology:

“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. http://www.rainn.org.”

Translation: “Apparently my lackeys have mishandled this, so now I have to apologize too, damn them. Of course, everybody here knows that the ad was posted because nobody in our ethically inert and brain-dead corporation, including me, saw anything wrong with making a joke out of rape, and we all had a good laugh when we first saw it. Nobody saw anything offensive because we’re all arrested development cases here and because the last woman we had in an executive position was good old LaVerne in the Nineties, and that was only because the Chairman of the Board was..well, you know. The ad was posted because we reviewed it and approved it and got it posted, but I have to pretend that it magically appeared and that I’m appointing a committee to investigate how some rogue rape-fan on staff got it on Twitter. I think that’s the story we agreed upon. Anyway, the ad is contrary to our values, so I must say I have to agree with Lundy about the Pazuzu thing…that is, if nobody buys the rogue rape-fan story. But look, since Jason posted his apology, we actually found an anti-sexual violence organization, so we’re giving a check to it as kind of a self-imposed fine, because some people will believe we’re sincere, and because, of course, money solves everything.”

[Thanks to Rhonda Hill for the tip.]