Sometimes I think I should call this blog “what really gets my goat” instead of The Feminist Critic. I was so overwhelmed with the “war against women” or “the fight to get the women’s vote” that I couldn’t focus on which of the latest attacks on women’s reproductive rights or dismissal of women’s opinions to address today. Hence I harken back to an advertisement that I see, far too often, often on the way to Boston, that drives me nuts.
I drink vodka. I have for years. It is my preferred liquor of choice. Many of my female friends also drink vodka. More of my female friends drink vodka than my male friends, many of whom prefer whiskey. Kettle One is my favorite vodka. I will drink Grey Goose or Belvedere or some of the catchy new vodkas that are out there. I will taste anything once. But Kettle One is my favorite. I have rich taste, I can’t help it.
However, Kettle One’s latest marketing campaign, directed by David O. Russell (Oscar nominated director of The Fighter), and featuring new music by Alberta Cross, which has been going on for far too long, includes three advertisements that include the following. In every single one of these advertisements, the men are drinking vodka together like they are part of some Secret Society. There is usually ONE woman shown with three men. They are drinking vodka on the rocks. The announcer always says “inspired by 300 years of tradition.” And the end tag line is always “Gentlemen, this is vodka.”
OK. Really? The subliminal statements in these ads make me want to boycott Kettle One. “Inspired by 300 years of tradition” could mean patriarchy or some patriarchal tradition, some old men’s club that only allows women in if they are invited. I’m sure that’s not what they meant, but since they don’t tell us what that mean, we are left to guess. Is it inspired by 300 years of some old dudes pressing wheat? Is that what tradition stands for?
I believe the male owned Nolet Distillery in Holland knows that women drink vodka. They are trying to “reach out” to their male constituents and to reach men and let them know that vodka isn’t just a “girly” drink. “Look, you can drink it on the rocks!” No juice or sour mix!” “It’s tough. It’s cool. It’s Gentlemeny!” But can’t we find marketing gurus in this day and age who can reach out to one group without stomping all over another? Why should I watch that commercial and feel like I am not allowed to be in this vodka drinking Gentlemen’s club? I feel the same way whenever I watch South Park. All the commercials are about video games. I watch South Park. I think its funny and well-written, but I’m in my forties and I don’t play World of Warcraft or Halo.
In the advertising’s industry desperate struggle to reach men who don’t watch television or drink vodka, they do so on the backs of women either rendering us invisible, making us part of the scenery or overlooking us all together. It’s as if we were never invited to the table or to the bar.