Thank you David Mitchell.
April 19, 2009

Banned Courage ad

Banned Courage ad

Don’t you hate it when someone does something stupid/insenstive/hostile and then says, “I was drunk”?  Perhaps some people like to see booze as some Jekyll potion, but drink can’t create something that wasn’t already there.  It does, however, provide people who are jerks with an excuse for their behavior.  Which brings me to this ad.

David Mitchell takes on the courage ad in a recent Guardian piece. He also takes on some of the irrational responses of the ASA to beer advertising with his typical humanity and humor.

Like Mitchell, at first I didn’t get this ad.  The woman doesn’t look “bad” enough to explain the scenario.  Is she asking him to unzip her?  Follow her up the stairs to the bedroom?  Why is he afraid? What is going on?  Only the little tag hanging from the back of her garment helps with the narrative…oh, she just bought that dress.  And, oh, by perverse advertising standards we are supposed to see this woman as fat.

Mitchell has the optimism to see the ad as a joke on a relationship-ending mistake– the guy will be drunk enough to say, stupidly, “Your ass looks fat in that.”  Whereas, once I “got” it, understood it to mean beer gives you the courage to shame your lady (permission to be a brute– in the mode of the “Don’t Expect Help on a Tuesday” Nuts ads which feature a hapless woman getting sprayed by broken plumbing while she calls to her distracted partner reading the magazine). The ad seems to claim the guy is justified in being totally tactless because she’s a fat cow and somebody’s got to tell her, might as well be you.

It doesn’t take courage to be an ass, but the beer’s a handy excuse.

Not in the least bit creamy!
March 28, 2009

Getting women to drink something not exactly unlike beer
March 27, 2009

Coors new ad campaign aimed at women.

Coors new ad campaign aimed at women.

Coors new brand spells it out for you: Yes, some beers make you burp. Yes, some do have a bitter taste. Yes, you can get bloated drinking beer. So we changed it. Their new lager is “ultra filtered” so that it’s completely clear.  And it’s flavored with green tea and dragonfruit.  The tasting notes for this prerelease are limited to “like an alcopop.”

Fancy being a beer goddess? The site asks me while giving me some handy facts about ancient mythology and “experimental cocktails.”  My first reaction when looking at the Bittersweet site was that it was some kind of joke. What if beer came in sexy easy-to-carry boxes? A girl can dream!

There is also much talk of glassware. On the “Views” section of the website someone, probably not a real person, suggests that if bars  “have sleeker slimmer or taller and slimmer or curvier glasswear, I buy one more proudly. Usually I really prefer a large dash of lemonade on the top too.”  (emphasis mine).

So really, not beer at all but shandy in a champagne flute?  This isn’t aimed at me.  It’s not even aimed at any women I know.  This campaign is patronizing and alienating and is doomed to fail.

The Beer Babe is running a “Beer for Women” ad design contest. On the contest page she links to a video where this issue is being debated on BBC Breakfast.  There is an image consultant (surely a vocation overly represented in hell.) who suggests that if a woman were to order a beer on a date it would turn the guy off.   She claims the drink you chose reveals who you are. She suggests a Manhattan, a “Sex in the City” style cocktail. I think all that really tells us is what kind of person she is.

What really keeps women away from beer are backwards, sexist attitudes that still persist in beer culture and marketing.  Take Skinny Blonde, a new Australian beer.  The label features a pin up girl whose clothes disappear as the bottle warms.   If we are to apply the image consultant’s logic to the male drinker, how would this beer augment his image? If you were on a date with a guy and he ordered this beer, would you be turned off? It might impress some moron friends of his but most women I know would see it as a red flag.

Some beers have managed to appeal to women quite effortlessly–think of Hitachino or Meantime–not a pink heart in sight. Beer culture does need to evolve, and perhaps advertising will be part of this, but I’m skeptical.  When has advertising ever really understood us as human beings? These femme campaigns are trying to right the wrongs of the macho mega-breweries but they have it all wrong. People don’t drink beer to impress each other, they drink beer to be together.

Carling Belong bus stop ad from 2006

Carling Belong bus stop ad from 2006

I’d be lying if I said this ad made me try Carling, but it spoke to me as a beer drinker who just happens to be a woman.

Naked on a beer rug.
August 11, 2008

Pump clips from the GBBF.  So. Not. Sexy.

Pump clips from the GBBF. So. Not. Sexy.

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder…from today’s Mirror, researchers prove beer goggles exist. Which begs the questions– why did they need experts to prove this, and why, exactly, is this news?

The researchers administered vodka to test subjects– probably mixed with something to mask the alcohol. So, technically, they really haven’t proved the validity of beer goggles, at least in my mind.

Beer isn’t really sexy-making, is it? Beer in the quantity that gives one goggles also bloats and queases. Beer marketers have a lot of work to do if they really want to bring sexy back in a more universal aspect– this would mean more than a stemmed glass (apparently the stemmed 1/3 pint glass at the GBBF was designed to appeal to women. Does anyone else find this strange?)

Yesterday I was at the Market Porter, drinking a wonderfully estery Crouch Vale Eldorado when I spied a pump clip for a beer called “Forbidden Fruit” featuring a be-thonged prepubescent-looking buttocks with a disembodied hand holding a strawberry over the tail bone. The tag line read, You know you want it. Er…ok. But can you put it in a stemmed glass? Part of me thought, gee– that beer must be pretty great to survive such a horrible pump clip, but I’m not getting anywhere near it. Many beers are marketed as “sexy”, with a shameless use of women’s bodies. (In the US these babed-out ad campaigns are reserved for the “Bud Girls” and other megabreweries.) It’s just uncool, really, and no amount of beer goggles could make this bad taste good. Every time I see something like this it’s the equivalent of a cold shower. Is it any wonder women drink wine? Have you ever seen a crappily drawn bikini clad woman on a wine bottle? Real ale in the UK would be forward looking if that approach were just ditched, lumped, exstinctified. In my more paranoid moments I figure these ad campaigns in the UK are designed to deter women and save all the good stuff for men.

Witness the wrong-on-all-levels Shepherd Neame ad:

...a bowl of water for me bitches

...a bowl of water for me bitches

So, while beer advertising evolves (one lives in hope), let’s talk about beer. What is the sexiest beer you’ve even had? What made it so? Mine without a doubt would be Paradox Grain. Teh hotness.

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