There are certain historical figures one doesn’t reference lightly—even when discussing the national holidays that bear their names.
We’re talking, of course, about The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose day we’ll celebrate on Monday (certain current senators be damned). Despite the nuances of the life King lived, the present day will always be too soon to discuss him in a certain light, especially when using his name to promote a consumer product! Yet whoever writes copy for Hennessy cognac thought it proper to pitch the liquor with the subject line atop this post.
Think about it for a minute: how would the Rev. King “be proud of” a cocktail?
Would he be proud of the skill required to mix it? Would he be proud of the speed with which it’s consumed? Or would he sample it himself and express pride in the fact that others would drink such a delicious beverage in his honor?
Sorry to go all humorless on you, but none of those options sound remotely appealing to us.
The body of the pitch, via a critical blogger at Los Angeles magazine:
Monday is Martin Luther King Day, a day used to commemorate the work of the Civil Rights activist. In the middle of winter, beaches and BBQ parties are impractical for the majority of the country that are given the day off. Check out these delicious Hennessy V.S specialty mixed drinks that are perfect for any indoor gathering to celebrate Dr. King’s life.
That’s pretty tame, but it’s the underlying concept that gets us. The post names Pivotal PR as Hennessy’s agency, and we have to hope that one of the brand’s French reps wrote the subject line due to his or her odd understanding of the way Americans view King. Also: unless we’re talking hot buttered rum, why would weather matter? And who would throw a beach party to commemorate the Civil Rights movement?
The sentiment is especially uncool given oft-circulated rumors about King’s relationship with alcohol, but the fact that he wasn’t a perfect person has nothing to do with the framing for this pitch. It’s all wrong.