Handmaid's Tale-Branded Wine Collection Draws Fierce Criticism Before Being Shut Down
If for whatever reason you haven’t yet heard of popular Hulu series "The Handmaid’s Tale," then allow us to give you a brief description: In a fictional, dystopian alternate universe, the U.S. has become a fascist theocracy in which women have become the property of their husbands, exposing them to systemic rape, abuse and disenfranchisement, among other unspeakable hardships.
Armed with this knowledge, how would you feel if we told you that MGM, one of the show’s production companies, had licensed a wine collection based on characters from the series?
We don’t even need to see your faces to gauge your reactions. In fact, we can practically hear the collective groan now rising out of every cubicle occupied by whatever poor soul just had the chance to be burdened with this depressing knowledge.
The collection (which has reportedly, and thankfully, been cancelled) was made in collaboration between MGM and Lot18, an online wine marketplace. It was to feature a pinot noir, a cabernet sauvignon and a bordeaux blanc, all three of which were named after characters from the show.
Handmaids Tale Wine Cancelled After Social Media Backlash https://t.co/ntK8X6Kwla
— DrinksFeed (@drinksfeed) July 11, 2018
Predictably, the marketing was incredibly tone-deaf. The Guardian reports that the pinot noir, named after the show’s main character Offred (i.e. the woman belonging to Fred) was described in the following terms: “It’s useless to resist the wine’s smooth and appealingly earthy profile, so you may as well give in.”
The other bottles were accompanied by similarly gross descriptions, the likes of which we will not burden your eyes and minds with. While there are plenty of unfortunate things about this failed promotion, the most unfortunate of them all may be the fact that this isn’t even the first bad "The Handmaid’s Tale" product tie-in.
Back in May, we reported on a series of "The Handmaid’s Tale" branded merchandise misfires, wondering whether it was not only inappropriate, but a disservice to the show’s message of shedding light on real-life suffering as well, to license otherwise unrelated products with the show’s name. (We thought it was.)
While some companies may have been deterred by the bad press mentioned above, others, such as Lot18 and MGM, seem to have missed the point and gone ahead with their ill-fated promotions anyway. And while the wine promotion has now been called off, the simple fact that it almost existed is enough to make significant bad press for both brands.
Long story short, be careful what you promote. Sometimes, it just ain’t worth it.