Vodka ad draws anti-rape controversy

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(Credit: Belvedere Vodka)

LOS ANGELES — Belvedere Vodka executives quickly apologized for an ad posted online that showed a smiling man grabbing a woman, who appeared to be in fear, from behind.

“Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly,” the ad’s caption read.

It drew hundreds of negative comments after it appeared Friday on the company’s Facebook page, with many suggesting it appeared to depict a rape.

Belvedere Vodka marketing Senior Vice President Jason Lundy posted an apology on the page Friday afternoon, saying the ad also offended “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,” Lundy said.

Company President Charles Gibb added his apology in a posting Saturday.

“It should never have happened,” Gibb said. “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.”

The company’s apology included a donation to RAINN — the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network — “as an expression of our regret,” Gibb said.

RAINN posted on its Facebook page that when Gibb called the group he was “profusely apologetic” and “offered to make a generous donation to RAINN to support our work to help victims of sexual violence and educate the public.”

The apology appeared to be accepted.

“Nice to see a company that not only undoes its mistake but looks for a way to do good afterwards,” RAINN’s post said.

Credit: CNN. CNN’s Elwyn Lopez contributed to this report.

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