Less than an hour after Anthony Bourdain appeared in the touching Emmys “in memoriam” montage, scotch manufacturer Balvenie ran an ad during last night’s awards telecast featuring footage of the late author/TV host talking about “following your passion.” The new commercial, which is featured above, understandably sparked a number of negative reactions from viewers on social media.
The clip begins with Bourdain in some sort of workshop or studio saying that it’s “not always a great idea to follow your passion if you’re passionate about something you’ll never be good at.” While shots of Bourdain interacting with various craftspeople flash across the screen, the Parts Unknown star argues that it is, however, worth chasing your dreams if you believe “that you can do something unique that will shock and astound and terrify people and bewitch them.” The ad ends with a title card that reads, “And so you did. We’re proud to have shared your journey.”
Especially considering its placement after the “in memoriam” Emmys segment, it’s hard to view this commercial as anything other than a shameless attempt to capitalize on the national mourning of Bourdain’s death. Here are some of the Twitter reactions to this tone-deaf ad:
I was very moved by what Anthony Bourdain said in that ad but I hate that they literally commercialized it— Versha Sharma (@versharma) September 18, 2018
I never want to see that Anthony Bourdain scotch commercial again. #Emmys— Carmél Carrillo (@CarmelCarrillo) September 18, 2018
I uhh personally did not like that scotch ad— Silvia Killingsworth (@silviakillings) September 18, 2018
tony bourdain is dead— (((Zach Linder))) (@zachlinder) September 18, 2018
so drink up
the balvenie, handcrafted scotch whiskey from banffshire
Super don’t agree with @BalvenieUS using Anthony Bourdain to sell more whiskey. Really bad choice. Almost unethical.— Jessi Hamilton (@pensivegirl) September 18, 2018
Well, never drinking Balvenie.— Bill Pearis (@soundbitesnyc) September 18, 2018
Extremely was not ready for that Balvenie ad. #emmys— Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) September 18, 2018
Bourdain became a spokesperson for the scotch brand three years ago, occasionally appearing in online-only videos under the banner “Raw Craft.” Those ads were all created with input from Bourdain, in the style of one of his TV shows, with minimal brand call-outs. The YouTube description for “The Balvenie Honors Anthony Bourdain” indicates that the Emmys ad was cobbled together from old Raw Craft videos.
In other, more positive Bourdain-related news, the Season 12 premiere of Parts Unknown is slated to air this Sunday, September 23 on CNN. This episode, covering a trip to Kenya with W. Kamau Bell, is the last chapter of the series that Bourdain completed before he died.