“Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.”
Sounds fishy right? This phrase appeared in a Bloomingdale’s ad, accompanied by a laughing girl and a man looking suspicious. This ad was published in their 2015 holiday catalogue. Naturally, it sparked national outrage as the latest and greatest example of rape culture. Ads like this make me very confused. What was the original intent of the ad? Were there any women on this ad team? Did the people with power not listen to the assistant that found it to be offensive?
Bloomingdale’s is an American chain owned by Macy’s. It competes with high-end retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
When I read the phrase on the ad, my mind jumped to rape. I am struggling to find any context where this phrase would be funny, inspirational or good for a national advertising campaign. An ad such as this implies that having sex with people who cannot make an informed decision is okay. It encourages this behavior.
The ad seems to depict an office holiday party. If this is an office party where eggnog is getting spiked, what message does it send about women in the workplace? The list of inequalities in the workplace for women is already too long. To have such an inequality put in an advertisement, almost as a joke, is blasphemy.
Think about all the women that have shopped at, or were planning to shop at Bloomingdale’s for the holidays. It’s likely that many of them are survivors of sexual assault or date rape, and if not personally, odds are they know someone who is. This ad just singled them out and most likely made them very uncomfortable. Sandi Krakowski, the CEO and founder of A Real Change International, wrote a great piece for Entrepreneur. Krakowski is a survivor of sexual assault, and was “sickened” by the ad. She was “even more upset” when she saw that the company apologized for the ad in a tweet, on Twitter.
“We heard your feedback about our catalog copy, which was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes.”
Tweets had been flooding the Bloomingdale’s Twitter account for days until they made the apology. Krakowski, among others, called for donations to anti-rape and women’s organizations, as well as the firing of the ad team.
Two Twitter users also brought up a great point: How diverse is the staff at Bloomingdale’s? Did a woman even see the ad before it was green-lit? Something tells me no.
This is a great example of something that can be prevented. Diverse staffing and multiple drafts of ad campaigns such as this can go a long way. Sexual assault should never be a joke, a laughing matter, or the subject of a holiday ad.