Virgin Mobile US has pulled a new video advertisement after it appeared to be condoning the act of rape.
The cellular company was quick to pull the ad but not before Twitter user EverydaySexism was able to grab a screencast of the ad, which read “Necklace? or Chloroform?”
Immediately following the ad’s debut, Virgin founder and CEO Richard Branson called the online spot “ill-judged” and “a dreadful mistake”.
In the video, a man is giving his significant other a present. As he shields her eyes, the words “The gift of Christmas surprise. Necklace? Or chloroform?” appear within the ad.
Twitter users were quick to attack the “rape” ad as sexist and disturbing, noting that “violence isn’t funny” and that the add “perpetuates misogyny.”
Responding further to the Virgin Mobile rape ad, Richard Branson writes on the Virgin group website:
“Having just seen, for the first time, the Virgin Mobile US advert which has upset many today, I agree it is ill-judged.
“Although I don’t own the company, it carries our brand. I will speak to the team there, make my thoughts clear and see what can be done about it.”
Branson ends with the following message:
“Virgin Mobile US usually get these things right, although on this occasion it is clear they have gone too far.”
Even the people behind the ad have called it a “dreadful mistake” that should never have been made.
Virgin Mobile US says of the ad spot:
“This image was not approved by Virgin Mobile USA. We apologize deeply to anyone who has been offended by this posting. It was removed early this morning.”
What do you think of the company’s obvious misstep?