Belvedere Fails


The advertisement that I choose is trying to sell Belvedere vodka. The audience is adults, since one legally must be twenty one to drink alcohol. I would say the majority of the audience is probably between the ages of early twenties to early forties. The advertisement was in a men’s magazine, so the advertisement was meant to cater to primarily adult men. The advertisement is definitely attention getting because of the unusual picture and also the fact that it is in black and white, which is not as common as color in today’s market. The advertisement is also striking, controversial, and risky; and employs all of the aspects of Burke’s pentad.

In regards to act, which we defined in class as the message of the advertisement, Belvedere is describing their vodka and depicting what could happen if you drink their vodka. They make fun of a woman who is refusing to give into sex easily. The scene, which we defined as where the advertisement takes place, is a typical apartment or living room. The agent, which we defined as who is talking, is unknown, it is kind of like a narrator. The agency, which is the techniques used and appeals, is humor, sarcasm, play on words, and sex. The purpose, which is the reason for the advertisement, is so that people buy Belvedere vodka because it is smooth and also because the advertisement appealed to their humorous side. As far as ratio is concerned, which Burke defines as “a relationship of propriety, suitability, or requirement among the elements” (Burke 202); I think the strongest ratio is between act and agency. In regards to act, the advertisement would obviously not make sense without the message on it, as there is not even a bottle of Belvedere in the picture. Also, the act is necessary to make the agency, which uses humor and a play on words, to work. The scene and agent are not very prevalent or important in regards to this advertisement.

I do not think that the advertisement was as effective as it could be. Coming from a female perspective, I found the advertisement to be sexist and disturbing. The woman in the picture is clearly terrified and does not seem to be enjoying herself. It looks like the guy is about to rape or sexual assault her. It is attention getting, however, that may not always be a good thing in this case. I found it to be off- putting and I would purposefully not buy Belvedere vodka because of this advertisement. This particular advertisement has been controversial, as many people have complained about it, and the company did apologize on their Face book page saying that they were sorry if they offended anybody because of their advertisement.

However, one could say that the advertisement was effective in the fact that controversy does cause more people to take notice, and therefore gets more publicity for Belvedere, even if that publicity is for a negative reason. Belvedere was probably trying to appeal to men and trying to find humor in the fact that women do not also give into sex easily, but that their vodka goes down smoothly. Some people may find this clever or funny and decide to buy Belvedere vodka, but I think that more people were probably put-off than intrigued by this advertisement. The advertisement also represents the company, and the advertisement could make people view the company in a negative way. Some people might think that Belvedere endorses men trying to take advantage of women, and that their vodka helps them achieve that goal.

            In order to make the advertisement more compelling, I think Belvedere’s best bet would be to keep the humorist angle, but try to make it less controversial and offensive. They could still even keep the message, but just change the picture in the advertisement. For example, instead of the guy grabbing the terrified woman, there could be a picture of two guys boxing, one who was really small and another who was a giant. The message “unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly”, would still apply in that case.  Or Belvedere could slightly modify their message, like taking out the “unlike some people” and replacing it with “unlike some things”. If Belvedere did that, they could then use a picture of a guy trying to eat some really bad food that his girlfriend made. The message “unlike some things, Belvedere always goes down smoothly”, would be applicable, funny, and much less controversial. Belvedere attempted to use humor and identify with males in their advertisement. However, they went over the line and instead of being humorous, they were offensive and disturbing. If Belvedere remade their advertisement and tried to appeal to a wider range of people, including females, they would be more effective in their persuasion efforts.

                                                                                    -Carly Thompson

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