The controversy over a Belvedere Vodka print ad that critics say depicts and glorifies a near-rape has come to Los Angeles this week.
That's because an actress in a video on which the ad is based is pissed off: Alicyn Packard is suing Belvedere's parent company for allegedly using her image without her permission.
The advertisement depicts a distressed woman appearing to leap from the lap of a man. The slogan:
“Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”
The not-so-subliminal message here, of course, is that this particular female did not, in fact, go down smoothly as commanded.
The Strictly Viral Productions video found at the Funny or Die site, of course, is a whole notha story: It's about a young woman and young man talking about their post-high-school college prospects while going over her child photos.
Her mom wants her to pose for a photo that mimicks one of her being held as a baby, and so, with reservations, she sits in her friends lap but leaps up after feeling something frisky (he claims it was a voicemail from his phone).
It's the clip of that shocked jump up that forms the basis of the vodka maker's image of a woman who didn't want to perform as asked.
The Belvedere ad has been roundly criticized by folks who say it makes light of forced and coerced sex. It will forever go down as the “Belvedere rape ad” (Google it).
Belvedere president Charles Gibb reportedly apologized for the ad:
It should never have happened … [It] is contrary to our values and we deeply regret the lapse.
But the lawsuit alleges that actress Packard did not give the company (Moët Hennessy USA ) permission to use her image. It quotes a Facebook group created to oppose the advertising:
I cannot even express how offensive and wrong your ad is. Rape jokes are not funny.
Of course, Belvedere might be chalking all this up as free advertising (see above) and great viral exposure on social media. If so, that's pretty sleazy.