Getting women to drink something not exactly unlike beer

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.

18 Responses

  1. Women feeling uncomfortable drinking beer is clearly a cultural thing. Go to the south of Germany or Austria and you’ll see grannies drinking from litre steins.

    I’m lucky enough to be married to a German. Dolores finds drinking beer as natural as drinking coffee and not something associated with machismo males.

    • Hi Ron– you are right. That is something I admired while in Germany– loving beer was a point of pride for almost every woman I met there. The statistics the “Bittersweet” campaign uses are from the UK where they claim only 13% of women drink beer compared to 30-40% on the continent (those last figures I’m rounding from memory because I don’t want to go back on that site!)

      I could go on about the whole “English Rose” idea of femininity & issues of class being part of the problem for women & beer in the UK but that would be a whole new post!

  2. Wow, great response! It is a strange idea and it doesn’t help the image of beer, instead it just plays up to negative ideas: ‘beer is bitter and it’ll bloat you so we made it different’. Does this even count as a beer (more like alcoholic barley and fruit juice?) and would women order it?!

    It’s a lack of education which causes these stereotypical views and this doesn’t help that. Plus, does the target audience of this beer not realise that alcopops are worse for you than beer, more full of sugar and calories and just as likely to make you bloated and burp?!

    I will admit that I’m a little intrigued by the Skinny Blonde though!! And I’ll probably buy a bottle of the clear beer to give it a try! I’m fickle.

    • I was wondering that too– does it count as beer if it’s clear and tastes like dragonfruit infusion? I’ll whinge about the whole thing but if I saw the beer I would probably try it out of curiosity. Maybe I’ll chase it with some Desperados!

      I agree with you– it’s lack of education, but also something deeper is going on here about what is “feminine” in this country. I find it interesting and slightly suspect that it’s an American company marketing to British women. (Maybe that’s just the freaked-out ex pat in me responding to this.)

      OK, now I’m intrigued, Mark– what would appeal about the Skinny Blonde? The OTT marketing or…?

      • he just wants to see the ladies clothes fall off!

        • Hopefully there are other much more fun ways to see this spectacle that don’t involve buying a gimmicky beer!

      • Haha, nothing like that, it’s just that I’m sure the beer is fantastic! I mean, it’s not like they’ve tried to concentrate on the gimmicky nature of the bottle and forgotten about the beer, it is?! I certainly wouln’t order this beer if I was on a date, that’s akin to buying The Daily Star or Nuts if she asks you to grab her something to read!

        • Haha– Mark! I’d have to agree with you that if that beer does well it would have to be good to survive its packaging.

  3. Sort of on topic, I saw this the other day and it made me think of you:
    supported by our ladies
    It’s a poster with information on about the beer festival that’s happening in town in July, the thing that struck me most was the lovely line ‘supported by our ladies’.

    As for men being put off by women drinking beer, if they are then they really aren’t worth knowing. I was under the impression that the days when women weren’t ‘allowed’ to drink beer, or if they did it had to be a half pint, were over, but maybe i’m wrong. I think that any man I know would probably far rather a beer drinking woman than a cocktail drinking one- you can’t really go and sit in a country pub drinking cocktails without looking totally stupid.

    And if I met a man who ordered a pint of Skinny Blonde (sounds wrong on so many levels) I would judge him very harshly, just as I judge M for drinking Fosters…

    • That beer festival poster is hilarious. I would like a supportive lady of my own. Where can I get one?

      I guess there are women who read books like “The Rules” and attempt to appear high-maintenance by ordering cocktails, waiting for the man to pay while sublimating all sexual desire so as not to appear too “available.” (I suppose men who go for a woman like this are also stuck with the naked lady on the beer bottle as consolation.)

      Thank Maud most of us don’t have to live there. I’ll drink a pint to that.

  4. I saw this website and went off an outraged rant for about twenty minutes afterwards. I too thought it might be some kind of joke.

    Treating women as if they’re brainless and afraid of something that might, god forbid, taste of something and make them fat is just awful and patronizing.

    The big companies seem to think that if they make beer taste like bad white wine then women will change over to drinking it in droves.

    They are of course wrong.

    • Yes, I was amazed at the absurdity. What is interesting to me is that they have ignored a valuable demographic– women who do really love beer. Surely all of us at one point did not drink it, and were converted. Rather than looking at those moments, and the beers that really turned us onto the stuff, they focus instead on bizarre stereotypes and myths.

      I would like to see a campaign that focused on “real” women, like street-style snapshot portraits, explaining the beer they love and why. I think that would work to get women to consider trying beer.

  5. “who suggests that if a woman were to order a beer on a date it would turn the guy off. ”

    Absolute nonsense!!

    My wife ordered a beer on our first date. I’ve never been so turned on.

    • Hi Mark– I would definitely hope that attractiveness would have more to do with confidence and living life on your own terms rather than conforming to someone else’s perverse fantasy of what is feminine! Most good guys, yourself included, totally get this.

  6. Just. Don’t. Get. Me. Started.

    • I had to edit this rant down. It’s probably better as an in-person natter over pints! With knitting in tow.

  7. As a male with much to prove, I go into beer bars and order tall flutes of Kriek… just waitin’ for somebody to say somethin’…

    • Haha–E.S.! That’s hot.

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