Liquor Control Board Pulls Shocking Date Rape Ad

Dec 9, 2011 3:30pm

After receiving thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has pulled a series of controversial, risqué posters from its ad campaign that links drinking with date rape.

The graphic ads show a woman’s legs sprawled on a dingy bathroom floor with blue underwear around her ankles. “Date rape,” one image reads. “See what could happen when your friends drink too much.”

In another ad, the wording is even more direct: “She didn’t want to but couldn’t say no. When your friends drink, they can end up making bad decisions. Like going home with someone they don’t know very well. Decisions like that leave them vulnerable to dangers like date rape. Help your friends stay in control and stay safe.”

Some people, including several victims’ advocacy groups, felt the image and wording sent the wrong message by blaming the victim.

In the months after the ad first surfaced in October, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board spokeswoman Stacey Witalec said the board fielded thousands of messages from all across the country.

“We personally responded to every phone call that came in,” said Witalec. “They were good, solid discussions. We listened first and foremost, and heard the concerns of people. But everyone by and large who called was willing to listen to us and have a conversation that was much larger than the image they saw.”

The Liquor Control Board made the decision to pull the date rape ad campaign this week, and it is no longer featured on the board’s website, controltonight.com.

“When you get to the point where a victim feels like they’re being victimized all over again, it was prudent for us at that time to pull the advertisement,”  Witalec said.

The Liquor Board had conducted focus groups prior to running the ad, she added, but she said the participants offered positive feedback.

“It was a shocking image but it was an image that they all said brought them back to a time where they either encountered that situation or were there when their friends were involved,” Witalec said. “Until you arm people with the right tools to help them stay safe, we’re not making any inroads to preventing another victimization.”

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