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Belvedere Vodka apologizes for ad making light of sexual assault

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(Belvedere)

Belvedere Vodka is battling what you might call a severe PR hangover after sparking a firestorm with an ad critics say makes light of sexual assault.

The ad, posted to its Facebook page on Saturday, shows a distressed woman being groped from behind by a man alongside the copy: "UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE, BELVEDERE ALWAYS GOES DOWN SMOOTHLY."

Following a swift backlash, the company removed the image and its president issued an apology on Facebook:

My name is Charles Gibb and I am the President of Belvedere Vodka. I would like to personally apologize for the offensive post that recently appeared on our Facebook page. It should never have happened. 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 also made an unspecified donation to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, Gibb said, "as an expression of our regret over this matter."

RAINN followed up with its own Facebook post giving Belvedere credit for its response:

We got a call from Belvedere Vodka's president, who was profusely apologetic about an offensive Facebook post yesterday. He stressed how much it was contrary to his values and what Belvedere stands for, and that he feels awful about it. He offered to make a generous donation to RAINN to support our work to help victims of sexual violence and educate the public. Nice to see a company that not only undoes its mistake but looks for a way to do good afterwards.

Of course, this isn't the first time a vodka company has backpedaled over an offensive ad. Last month, Wodka, a New York-based vodka bottler, came under fire for a billboard that touted its beverage as "ESCORT QUALITY" at "HOOKER PRICING."

In December, the company was forced to remove one of its Manhattan billboards after residents and Jewish groups complained its message ("CHRISTMAS QUALITY. HANNUKAH PRICING") was anti-Semitic.

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