What’s the Point of Bloomingdale’s Date Rape Ad?

Bloomingdale's Date Rape AdThis is a Bloomingdale’s ad from their holiday catalog. If you can’t read the text (I did alter the image to make it as legible as possible), it reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Not surprisingly, Twitter went crazy and Bloomingdale offered a garden variety apology, “We heard your feedback about our catalog copy, which was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes.” Okay.

The one place in the world in which “copy” is thoroughly vetted, it is in advertising. If Bloomingdale’s really believes that the ad was inappropriate, they must have believed that when it was approved. I know what I have to go through just to get the preliminary text of infographics approved to start production. And that’s in a company that more or less consists of three people. Did this ad really just slip through? I tend to think that Bloomdale’s figured that they would get some publicity. It would titillate, but not offend enough to require anything more than a standard Twitter apology.

My question is: what is it an ad for? These are two very beautiful people. She looks carefree like she just performed brilliantly on America’s Got Talent. And he looks like a serial killer from a later David Cronenberg film. I don’t get a “date rape” vibe from this. I think he’s going to kill her and have sex with her corpse. What am I supposed to take away from this? That’s a serious question. If anyone can explain it to me, I’d really like to know. I really think that I’m missing something here. It isn’t unusual for me to be clueless in this way. But I don’t see a product being advertised.

It’s got to be that it isn’t an ad for anything. I’ve read a number of articles and no one mentions it being an ad. “Get her drunk then pop the question with a small karat, visibly occluded, rose-cut diamond.” I guess it is just an expression of holiday cheer. Who among us would not like to sleep with someone who’s marginal enough that we would have to be drugged? And that’s especially true given that eggnog generally has alcohol in it. What is Creepy Serial Killer Guy going to put in the eggnog? Ketamine? Maybe that’s it! Maybe the next page has a list of their offerings:

  • Ketamine — just right for surgery or date rape!
  • Nitrous oxide — it’s no laughing matter when you’re bedding a chick!
  • Phencyclidine — she’ll be too delusional to resist!
  • Valium — with retroactive amnesia, she’ll never know!
  • Diacetylmorphine — when only the best will do!

I don’t mean to take this all lightly. I am very serious in wanting to know what Bloomingdale’s was thinking. It isn’t enough to say that they showed bad judgement. Unless we know what it is they were attempting to do, it is meaningless. And sadly, I think that all they were trying to do was to get us all talking about them.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

21 thoughts on “What’s the Point of Bloomingdale’s Date Rape Ad?

  1. They were thinking this gets them free advertising and probably one of the ad men thought it was hilarious because they don’t think date rape is a serious thing or more likely, one of them does like to liquor/drug his partner up and is being unsubtle in his own advertising.

    As for the man-he just looks annoyed at having to put up with her at wherever those two are at. I have a male best friend and he frequently looks annoyed at me like that guy does.

    • Since writing this, I think it may be giving them too much credit to think that they would get a lot of attention for it. I’m now thinking just clueless. I still think the guy looks like a serial killer. Do you know what your best friend does when you’re not around?

  2. Yes, he defends murderers, rapists and thieves. He is a public defender.

    So he would be defending that guy.

        • I got mixed messages from that. I would grow a beard to cover out my jowls, but a beard itches and drives me crazy.

            • It can. But with a good razor it doesn’t. I think there might have been a mix up because you talked about shaving and waxing together. But I am willing to put up with a little pain to take away something that is continuously bothering me.

              • Waxing, again depending on where, only hurts briefly. Shaving in my experience, which is very different then a man’s obviously, doesn’t hurt at all.

                So it is a little odd to hear shaving hurts. Although, it would explain that scene in Home Alone.

                • The area between the nose and upper lip is sensitive. But it isn’t painful if (1) you have a decent razor; and (2) you prepare your skin properly (usually with a hot towel). The best razors I’ve ever used are women’s razors — like the Gillette Venus.

                  • @Frank That makes leg shaving sound so much easier since I usually need just some water and enough space.

                    @James it sounds like a face thing for the pain-it always hurts for my eyebrows being waxed to the point of tears.

                • I think it has something to do with the length of the beard. Shaving one-or-two-day stubble is an annoying time expenditure, but it doesn’t hurt. After it gets to the better part of a week, either an electric or a regular razor pulls on the little hairs and it stings. Nothing serious, just uncomfortable enough to make you wince a little. Maybe stubble is easier to slice off?

                  Best shave I ever had was for someone’s wedding, and my host knew how to use an old-timey “Sweeney Todd” straight razor. Smooth as a baby’s butt and didn’t hurt at all!

  3. These things do happen. I work for a small division of a very large corporation. Fortune 100 global operation. Anyway, about five years ago our art department was making a big two page ad for a major trade magazine to launch a new product line. There was a phone number to call to get in on this new product, and as it turns out the art department got the number wrong. And nobody thought to call it to check that before the ad went to print. And it turns out it was a phone sex line. The product was a flop and cost us more money than it ever brought in. Not because of the ad snafu. That’s just funny. The person who I believe actually made the error still works here. Everyone else involved has left or been laid off.

    • That’s a great story! But that’s a much more understandable mistake. We just put out an infographic that featured those phone app companies that do things for you (like Uber). One of them was for laundry. A website that wanted to use the infographic contacted us saying that the company just went out of business — really, like 2 weeks before we published. But there were a total of three of these companies, so we were just going to replace that part of the infographic with info for another. It turned out they had all gone out of business in the last year. (We changed the infographic from “12 Apps…” to “11 Apps…”) I think it is a sign of an improving company. Companies like Uber depend upon desperate workers. Their innovation isn’t a smartphone app, it is a bad economy. Sorry. I got off point. But I’ve just been writing about this.

    • Brilliant — and glad the person who made the boo-boo wasn’t fired. The product wasn’t their fault, after all!

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