With the latest TV ad for their “The Drinking Man’s Scotch” campaign, Dewar’s has nominated a promising contender for the PR Fail Of The Year Award 2013.
In “Meet the Baron”, a Glaswegian superhero saves the protagonist from several kinds of trouble including being subjected to advances of a plump lady in red. “Throwing himself on the explosives“, the Baron charmingly fends off the attack of the fat blonde to allow our friend to singlehandedly take on three svelte “Swedish bikini models” with the aid of Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whisky.
It was this particular scene that got many whisky people of both sexes outraged. Canadian blogger Johanne McInnis aka Whisky Lassie even launched an internet petition to retract the ad just days after it had been published in a slew of sponsored “articles”.
Dewar’s first tried to justify the scene on Twitter, saying that in the plot the blonde was in fact an evil villain. But a day later the video was deleted from Youtube, and Dewar’s issued a short statement of apology.
It has to be acknowledged that Dewar’s reacted quickly and they reacted right by retracting the video. It is in the interest of the company to avoid damage to a brand, and not trying to defend an advertisment that obviously has the potential to offend a lot of people. Fred Minnick pointed out that the ad very likely violates the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) “Code of Responsible Practices”, a code that Dewar’s owner Bacardi has adopted.
But it is not only sexism what makes this ad a bad one. The Baron is not named so by random. In 1917 and 1919, Thomas Dewar and John Dewar, the two sons of Dewar’s founder John Dewar sr., were raised to peerage as Barons. Thomas was 1st Baron Dewar, John was 1st Baron Forteviot.
Thus the Baron is an exact metaphor for Dewar’s Scotch Whisky. The subliminal messages this advertisment conveys are
- Dewar’s whisky helps you to get out of trouble.
- Dewar’s whisky helps you to get laid.
This kind of ad only supplies ammunition to the puritans who have always known that alcohol is only consumed to get drunk and/or to get rid of sexual inhibitions. To put this under the “Drink Responsibly” umbrella is a laugh because it actually promotes drinking irresponsibly, that is for the effect of alcohol.
The name of the Dewars’ campaign, “The Drinking Man’s Scotch”, is an ambiguous term and it also brings us back to the sexisim element. The man’s drink stereotype still is not dead, it seems. Dewar’s goal only appears to be to give the drink a younger appeal. The inclusion of Claire Forlani as Scottish accent faking mysterious brunette is not much more than a fig leaf, designed more to attract males than to encourage females.