A Dallas brewery sparked intense debate — and drew international attention — over sexual innuendo in the slogan for Dallas Blonde ale: “Goes down easy.”
Deep Ellum Brewing Co. sells the beer in cans with an illustration of a blond doll. This month, it unveiled its new hot-pink delivery van with a super-sized version of the illustration and slogan.
The company’s Facebook post about the van generated discussion on social media, blogs and news outlets as far away as England and Australia.
Some said the slogan contributes to “rape culture” by linking alcohol with sex. Others laughed it off, slammed political correctness or made jokes of their own.
The brewery’s owner, John Reardon, said Wednesday that he “was completely blown away” by the backlash. Reardon said he’s not going to pull the beer label but will cover up the advertising on the van until it can be replaced.
He said the slogan was about the smooth-tasting beer with a dose of sexual innuendo and is not a rape joke.
“It was meant to get a chuckle at best, an eye roll at worst,” he said. “I knew it would catch some flak, but never to this extent.”
Reardon noted that he received some supportive phone calls but said critical ones have made him think. “I’ve never heard of ‘rape’ and ‘culture’ put in the same sentence before last week. I’ve learned quite a bit,” he said. “Getting this information and having this brought to my attention is awakening.”
Reardon posted an apology last week on the brewery’s website.
Some critics said the beer slogan demeans and objectifies women and contributes to a culture of sexual violence.
A similar slogan was used last year to promote a Polish vodka. Belvedere Vodka ran an ad that showed a man grabbing a panicked-looking woman from behind with the slogan: “Unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”
The company pulled the ad and made a donation to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, according to news reports.
Early this month, Minibar, a bar in downtown Austin, got flak over a message on its sidewalk chalkboard. The message said “I like my beer like I like my violence: domestic.”
The bar apologized, fired the employee responsible and said it would donate $1 to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for each domestic beer it sells in October.
Bobbie Villareal, executive director of the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, said she was disappointed by the Dallas Blonde slogan when she read about it on an Australian news website. She said it plays on tired sexist stereotypes and it links sex to alcohol, which she called “the number one date rape drug.”
“It’s embarrassing,” Villareal said. “It’s stereotyping what people think of women in Dallas.”
“I don’t think I’m super sensitive. But as a mother and a woman and someone connected to the issue, I think it was done in bad taste.”
Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, said she hopes customers will stop buying beer from Deep Ellum Brewing Co. until the label is changed.
“I’d like to see it start impacting their bottom line,” she said.
“For years, people have accused others of not having a sense of humor when making racist jokes,” Burrhus-Clay said. “It’s always ‘You people don’t have a sense of humor.’ Maybe, we’ve gotten smarter and more politically correct about other things, but women are still fair game.”