Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Absolut Disgust

Sometimes something is so wrong, so monumentally deplorable, so incredibly in bad taste, that you struggle to find words to describe just how wrong it is. It is the crossing of a boundary into the dark place. That place where we cease to be fully human and forget that we are members of a community, of a society.

I just found such a place and I am not pleased.

The trigger for this rant came from a recent experience with Hulu. Now, I absolutely love Hulu and other on-line video services. The ability to watch a show or movie whenever I want is a huge attraction. Because I see value in the ability to have ultimate choice in viewing I am willing to watch the commercials. Honestly, the 15 second ads are no burden and I am aware that it pays for the experience.

However, when those ads are insensitive or downright awful, you lose me and my loyalty. I am almost there with Hulu. I am on the verge of blocking it at my firewall altogether though this will gain me the ire of my 16 year old son. It is because of my teenagers that I might just block Hulu.

I was watching the final ER episode on Hulu. This particular episode has a story line about a teenage girl who is in a coma from drinking. Drinking vodka. The doctor, played by John Stamos, is highly disturbed by this since he has a teenage daughter himself. While a bit preachy at times, overall it was moving and thought provoking. I hope teenagers see this and it helps them avoid this kind of destructive behavior.

Right in the middle of the story about a girl who might die from alcohol poisoning pops up an ad for Absolut Vodka. Vodka! And what do you think these kids were drinking in the show. What puts the teenage girl in a coma? Vodka. The ad was not just for the usual nasty tasting stuff. Nope. Absolut chose this moment to advertise Mango Vodka. The kind of stuff teenage girls might go for.

Now, they couldn't have done this during the actual broadcast. TV dumped hard alcohol ads long ago. If you want to cheapen the message from the show, this is a great way to do it. It is so cynical, in such poor taste, and such bad community relations that I can only assume that somebody terribly callous or stupid arranged for this spot. Didn't they bother to see what the show was about before buying the ad? Doesn't Hulu have a “ no booze on this show” filter? Did it occur to anyone that it might be inappropriate to advertise vodka during a show about the negative effects of teenage drinking? Apparently not.

So, Absolut. You are now a bunch of unfeeling corporate tools. I hope you are happy with yourself. You disgust me and I hope the MADD people climb all over you and smack you around. You deserve it. I also won't buy your products. I won't drink your products. And Hulu, don't hide behind the “we only display them, we don't make them” argument. You should have told your client that this was a bad idea. I suppose the money mattered more.

Just because it is on the Internet, doesn't mean it is right.

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