The actress who recently described her experience trying out for an unnamed ad as “my bikini audition from hell” has issued her first public statement after AB InBev confirmed that the campaign in question was Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer’s Super Bowl spot.
Ingrid Haas said the call itself was “unacceptable” but also shared positive impressions of the final ad, which Anheuser-Busch Beyond Beer vp Chelsea Phillips framed as an opportunity to “give women a new voice that we haven’t seen before in alcohol advertising.”
“The Bon & Viv spot turned out great, and I hope we continue to see more female creators and bosses depicted in ad campaigns,” Haas told Adweek. “My audition experience was unfortunate and unacceptable. I hope we all get more comfortable with women saying no to uncomfortable, degrading or inequitable situations.”
In December, Vice published an article in which Haas recounted her audition for an ad that would feature “mermaids underwater.” She did not name the company or any of the individuals involved in the campaign, but called the behavior of one casting director “gross and unprofessional,” despite the fact that an associate director announced before the call began that “this is a safe space, and any sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”
In particular, she noted that this casting director—referred to only as “Man Bun”—asked all actresses on set to wear bikinis and dance to Kelis’ “Milkshake” even though the final ad would contain no dancing or swimsuits. According to Haas’ account, he responded to her questions about why she had to dance by saying the two unnamed directors behind the spot “always do this for the commercials they direct,” later adding, “Welcome to corporate America. This is how we sell stuff.”
“A good casting director (even just decent ones in all honesty) would have told the directors that it’s inappropriate to ask women in bikinis to dance for no reason,” she wrote. Another actress involved in the shoot also reportedly refused to dance and later told Haas that the same casting director said that “it’s been a while since he’s done a bikini audition, so he’s having a particularly great day.”
AB InBev released a statement after receiving queries from Adweek and several other publications.
“The behavior described in the Vice article is completely unacceptable and goes against everything that our brand and company stand for. I regret that this individual had this experience,” said Phillips. “Anheuser-Busch does not tolerate any discriminatory or demeaning behavior. I reached out to the production company who produced the commercial, because we hold our business partners to this same standard.”
Spokespeople for Swedish directing collective Traktor and production company Stink Films, which worked on the ad, also addressed the matter.
“Stink and Traktor do not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind,” their statement read. “No one should be made to feel uncomfortable, and we expect all collaborators and contractors to act respectfully. Furthermore, we will not be working with the individual at the casting agency involved in the commercial shoot described in the Vice article again.”
Traktor’s directors have helmed such big-name campaigns as last year’s Super Bowl smash “It’s a Tide Ad,” and the company signed an exclusive global deal with Stink after the Cannes Lions Festival last summer.
Bullish, the creative agency that made the ad, said, “We refer all inquiries to Anheuser-Busch and fully support its stance.”
According to parties familiar with the work, no employees of Stink, Traktor or Bullish were present at the casting call.