Absolut was one of the first mainstream brands to market directly to the LGBT community, but a new campaign has some wondering if the vodka company is just pandering.
The latest video in the #AbsolutNights campaign, sees a young man taking about trying to find his friend “Dave” at a music festival.
“Then I turned around and saw Dave. Only it wasn’t the Dave I remembered—he told me his name was Darla now,” says the narrator as we see the two meet. He admits he tried to come up with an excuse to leave, but Darla “grabbed my hand” and takes him on a night of fun and conversation.
“We just walked and she told me she always felt this way. I just listened and somehow I understood,” he ends. “She was my friend. The same person. The same heart. She hadn’t changed. I had.”
Trans actress Carol Marra plays “Darla” in the ad, which has been viewed nearly 600,000 times.
Weaving in a message about trans visibility and acceptance into a vodka commercial isn’t easy—especially when the whole thing is set at a rave.
Some commenters cringed at the heavy-handedness of the spot and its cliche “surprise, I’m trans!” angle. Others complained Darla was silent during the whole clip, with the narrator framing the whole story through his own self-satisfied ego. Maybe we could have seen it from Darla’s perspective—nervous about meeting an old friend for the first time since transitioning?
“It’s refreshing to see an ad which focuses on someone starting to understand trans issue,” Helen Belcher of Trans Media Watch told Gay Star News. “Adverts necessarily have to have simple storylines, so it’s not surprising that some people may feel it’s unnecessarily stereotypical. But there are some welcome messages for acceptance and understanding, which this ad puts across.”
Another video in the #AbsolutNights campaign sees a young woman at the same festival making a connection with another woman.