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In the new Bloomingdale’s 2015 holiday catalog an advertisement depicts a lecherous man peering at a woman with the caption: “Spike your best friend’s egg nog when they’re not looking.”
The suggestion of date rape threw catalog shoppers and the world at large into an understandable frenzy. As standard operating procedure in today’s marketplace, the New York department store issued an apology.
An apology? So what. This is not a radio or TV ad that can be pulled off the air. This is a print advertising message—one that remains in circulation until the publication is tossed or recycled, which is an action that should be taken right now.
This advertisement is more than offensive, despicable and beyond unacceptable. In what universe is such a message reasonable? Perhaps in a universe where men do what they want to get what they want, a universe in which intoxication is synonymous with easy sex.
The creators of this ad, and to a greater degree the people in charge of giving it the red light, might like to meet some of our female residents who had “a little something extra” put into their cocktails. These are women whose lives were nearly destroyed after being raped by a man, or many men. Let’s see how well that message sells in the marketplace.
The concept of date rape is bad enough, but did anyone at Bloomingdale’s pause to consider the ramifications of possible alcohol addiction? Imagine a woman in recovery sipping on pure egg nog, only to have her “best friend” spike it. “So, what’s the big deal; it’s just a little drop of booze.” Only one who has walked the arduous road of alcohol recovery can attest to the fact that any, even the smallest amount of alcohol, can undo years of sobriety—literally years.
Again, sometimes a plain old “I’m sorry” is simply not enough. We all know there is a difference between an apology (just words) and an amends (a healing action). Instead of a routine apology consisting of empty words, Bloomingdales might consider making an amend by donating a substantial monetary sum to a rape recovery organization or even to Alcoholics Anonymous. If their bottom line takes a little hit, perhaps they will think twice about the caliber and content of future advertising messages.
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