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Belvedere vodka stuns fans with 'rape culture' ad then apologises

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By Noel Young | Correspondent

March 27, 2012 | 4 min read

A Vodka company has caused a storm in the US with an ad that showed a woman grappling with a man in what critics called a "horrifying emblem of rape culture."

The ad that shocked

On its official Twitter page, the the Polish vodka Belvedere showed the a woman struggling to get out of the man's arms. The copy read: "Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly."

Belvedere's agency is Omnicom Group's Arnell but agency CEO Sara Arnell said in an e-mail to AdAge, "we are their agency" but "we did not do that ad." So who did?

Arnell coined the nickname for the vodka, "Belve." Their earlier ads had sexual undertones, with men and women blindfolding each other- but there was no suggestion of abuse.

Belvedere has now posted this apology on Twitter and Facebook : "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." (since the article was first published, the company has released an updated apology - check it out at the bottom of the page)

On Twitter, where "Belve" has more than 10,000 followers, people called for boycotts of the drink and condemned the ad as shameful and a "horrifying emblem of rape culture."

Other tweets: #rapeisnot funnyā€¯ Shockingly bad! Who'd even think of this ad angle?

Never buying your product again!

@belvederevodka Have you seen this? Belvedere vodka uses sexual assault as a marketing tool

@belvederevodka Apologize, what??? Morality fail! Hope ALL involved r fired! How about responsible marketing? Lost customer!#rapeisnotfunny

But on its Facebook page, which has 900,000-plus fans, Diane McLellan defended Belvedere,"It's an alcoholic drink and adults know the consequences so make their choices -- not offended in the least. Carry on."

Jennifer Miglionico-Poulsen said she w was "bummed" the ad had been removed.

" I wanted to share it with my friends. Let the uptight people unlike it and bam all better. Like they really are drinkers anyway."

Eddie G. Gonzalez said: "Those people that were offended will prob be shit-faced by the end of the day lol."

Updated: Charles Gibb, the President of Belvedere Vodka, has said that the post was "completely inappropriate and contrary to the values of the Company".

"I would like to personally apologize for the offensive post that recently appeared on our Facebook page", Mr. Gibb said. "It should never have happened, and the Company will take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that it never happens again. We deeply regret this lapse."

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