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Bloomingdale’s Apologizes for Date Rape Joke in Ad

Bloomingdale's date rape

What Bloomingdale’s thought was a tongue-in-cheek caption turned out to be a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease for the department store chain this week as an undeniably distasteful page from its holiday catalog made the rounds on social media.

The retailer issued an apology late on Tuesday after outraged consumers took to Twitter to criticize an ad they said encouraged date rape.

The offending image features a woman laughing, her head turned from the camera, as a besuited man glances in her direction. Innocent—until you see the caption: “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.”

Natalie Bee tweeted: “Bloomingdale’s encourages you to date rape your friend for the holidays.” Another person said: “Here’s Bloomingdale’s advertising festive date rape and non-consensual drug abuse to sell fashion. Stay classy.”

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsA quick scroll through the #Bloomingdales hashtag on Twitter indicates that the vast majority of people think the ad is “creepy.” “In reflection of your feedback, the copy we used in our recent catalog was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes for this error in judgement,” the retailer said on Facebook.

The controversy kicked off as Macy’s, which owns Bloomingdale’s, prepared to release its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, reporting a 5.2% slip in sales and a 3.9% decline in comps.
And a sorry hasn’t been enough to appease consumers. “How about replacing the ad firm responsible and donating their fee to rape crisis centers?” read one suggestion on social media.

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Jean Kilbourne, the filmmaker behind the documentary series “Killing Us Softly: America’s Image of Women,” told The Washington Post, “I doubt the person who created this was consciously thinking about sexual assault. Male or female, whoever it was who came up with this—and the many people who okayed it—just don’t get it. Date rape is still a huge problem—and yes, there’s more attention paid to it than before, but not enough attention.”

Bloomingdale’s blunder isn’t an isolated incident. Back in April, Bud Light received backlash for its “Up for Whatever” campaign that was tagged with the line “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”

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