Really, Maker’s Mark?

This advertisement for Maker’s Mark bourbon shows a picture of the Maker’s Mark bottle with its signature red wax cap and a caption that reads: “Gentlemen may prefer blondes but it takes a real man to handle a redhead.”

I find this ad offensive for numerous reasons. First, the ad objectifies women by equating them to a bottle of alcohol, and by turning a bottle of Maker’s Mark into a “woman.” The red wax on the bottle has been curled up at the ends in an effort to make it resemble red hair and thus enforce the idea that a bottle of Maker’s Mark is a “redhead” that needs to be “handled” by a “real man.” In her documentary “Killing Us Softly 4” Jean Kilbourne points out that

 the first step towards violence against another person is often to dehumanize them, to turn them into an object in order to justify using violence against them. This advertisement does just that, as it not only presents women as objects but also seems to encourage some sort of control or domination over them.

Also, this advertisement is clearly aimed at heterosexual males. In fact, it makes it clear that only men are supposed to drink Maker’s Mark, and only a certain type of man. This ad tells us that you cannot be a woman and drink bourbon, you cannot be a homosexual male and drink bourbon, and you cannot be a “gentleman” who treats women with respect and drink bourbon. No, to drink Maker’s Mark you must be a “real man,” which is defined by this ad as someone who is willing to and capable of exerting control and domination over women.

Sources: Jean Kilbourne, “Killing Us Softly 4,” Dir. Sut Jhally, 2010, Media Education Foundation

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