An advertisement for Virgin Mobile that hints at sexual assault was recently pulled after Twitter users (including Richard Branson) raged.
The print ad features a middle-aged man standing behind a woman. He's covering her eyes with one hand and holds a wrapped gift in the other. The caption reads: "The gift of Christmas surprise. Necklace? Or chloroform?"
Chloroform is sometimes used in assaults to make the victim pass out. The sketchy attempt at humor angered just about everyone who saw it. The Guardian UK reported that Twitter comments included "This advert is a disgrace. The suggesttion (sic) of violence is not funny and perpetuates misogyny" and "@virginmobileus u think normalisation of rape or violence is funny?"
Branson, who sold Virgin Mobile USA to Sprint Nextel several years ago, responded to the outrage on the Virgin Group site. "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. Virgin Mobile US usually get these things right, although on this occasion it is clear they have gone too far."
Branson later posted an update explaining that the post was made by an "external agency that was not approved by Virgin Mobile US. They acknowledge a dreadful mistake was made. The advert, along with the whole calendar, has been removed, never to be seen again."
Except on the Internet, where nothing is ever really gone.
I honestly expected that it was some 4chan/Reddit hack, it's utterly disgusting that something of this level was earnestly posted as "funny".