Distillery giant Seagram Americas was far, far more tactful, but really, that's the gist of the company's response to criticism from mental health advocates regarding its latest print ad campaign for Absolut Vodka: The one depicting a knife-slashed shower curtain and the words, "Absolut Psycho."
Seagram says the ad is an obvious tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1960 thriller, Psycho, starring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins as the guy who ruins her bathing routine. The ad's even black-and-white, just like Hitchcock's eerie movie.
Nice touch? Not to Jack Crosswell, a board member of the Alabama chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
Crosswell recently issued a call for the removal of all magazines carrying the "Absolut Psycho" ads from the shelves of state-owned liquor stores in Alabama. Used under the guise of film tribute or no, the word "psycho" doesn't fly with an organization that's dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness.
Absolut spokesman Robert Bernstein, in a statement, says the vodka maker doesn't want to perpetuate negative stereotypes, either.
"We meant no harm by our ad, nor did we intend to insult those who suffer from mental illness," Bernstein said. "...It is one of a series of Absolut ads that celebrate famous movies and other entertainment genres."
Seagram has refused to pull the ad in response to heat from the organization. The issue will soon be moot, in any case. Seagram says "Absolut Psycho" is nearing the end of its scheduled run and is unlikely to appear in "many" future publications.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, meanwhile, will likely continue with its watchdog role. The group issues so-called "Stigma Alerts," which put the media on notice when they've reputedly misstepped. Last December, for instance, the alliance urged its members to write Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, protesting an SNL skit called, "Car for Crazy People."
"This skit lampooned people with brain disorders by explicitly mocking symptoms like auditory delusions, compulsive behavior, and hallucinations," the organization said.