Not really a page three girl

Irrelevant really, except I once was very blonde and very young.

Irrelevant except I once was very blonde and very young.

I’ll admit one of my prime annoyances is the marketing of blonde ales as if the beer is a woman you can “have”.  “Skinny blondes like to have a good time” being the most recently obnoxious example of this.

According to the press, Brew Dog’s Trashy Blonde has come under fire from feminists. This beer happens to be my favourite offering from Brew Dog, and that’s saying a lot.

It’s a pretty lantern-orange color. The big fruits (lychee dominates) and hoppy bite are fresh and juicy, and they ask little from the drinker, save that you pair it with something tasty.  Anything really. I won’t say it’s easy going because then I would be anthropomorphizing this beer.

The marketing of Trashy Blonde is so OTT and really kind of poignantly satirical, it’s hard to be offended.  Once a friend of mine read the label out loud.  “You know you shouldn’t…A titillating, neurotic, peroxide punk of a pale ale.  Combining attitude, style, substance and a little bit of low self esteem for good measure; what would your mother say?”  She and I, both avowed feminists, cracked up.

If we could just drop the blonde’s “e” it could be talking about the forbidden boyfriend, about a person we know or used to be. It could be, my my hey hey, the story of blond Johnny Rotten.

Good beer is sexy.  Can we find a new way to talk about this yummy aspect that doesn’t demean women?  Irony is one place to start but it’s going to be, as most things worth doing, a very tricky business.

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14 Responses

  1. Other examples include Slater’s Top Totty or Hart Brewery’s Dirty Debbie. In fact, the Hart website shows many examples of pump clips that some might find offensive. However, despite the laddish marketing, these beers are rather good, and my ex perversely used to delight in ordering beers with sexist names.

    • I think it’s such a shame when a good beer is hidden behind a tasteless pump clip. Not all women drinkers will have the ironic sensibility of your ex! I assume that if a beer can survive such awful marketing it must be good. Or, in my more paranoid moments, that the sexist guys designing these labels want to save all the good beer for their ilk and are deliberately trying to turn away women drinkers or any enlightened guy.

  2. Sorry, that should be Dishy Debbie.

    • Dirty Debbie is more interesting.

  3. The Dorothy Goodbody’s range from Wye Valley gets it right, I think – just the right mix of cheesecake charm and wry humour.

    • Hi Darren– I would have to agree that the Goodbody’s labels are almost similar to what you find on cosmetics like Benefit which use retro images of women– it’s a similar thing with the recent Stella campaigns, borrowing images of women from older advertising designed to sell glamour rather than cheap sex. There are so many ways to do it right that it just seems really dumb/disgraceful when breweries get it wrong.

  4. I think brewers who tap into laddish attitudes simply don’t see women as a significant part of their market. There are two or three beers that I haven’t tried because I’ve been put off by extreme names, but with other silly names I’ll ask – say – for a pint of Slater’s rather than for a pint of Top Totty.

    I’ll let you know if I come across Dirty Debbie.

  5. A tricky one indeed. Beer is sold mainly to men. The brewers target that market deliberately because that’s where they have success. To make money from beer it is necessary to sell lots of it. Men also drink more volume, generally. One individual brewery is unlikely to do well by starting to target women over the established male dominated market.

    I certainly don’t think any brewery wants to stop any group of people becoming enlightened about beer. I do try and avoid gender dividing names, as much as my sexist macho chauvinistic id will allow.

    However, there must be mileage here somewhere. I worry about it every time a woman refuses to accept even a free taster of anything, because she “doesn’t like beer”. How much of that is because of macho male marketing? It would be fascinating to know the answer to that.

    • Hi Dave– I think that sexist marketing campaigns don’t successfully target modern men. Also, women do drink beer, and certain breweries are marketing to them…take some of the recent Stella ads (the retro 60’s recycling glass and the Riviera-style billboards). Ids aside, can real ale and microbreweries really afford to fall behind on this one?

  6. “can real ale and microbreweries really afford to fall behind on this one” – in short, no.

    Yes women do drink beer. It’s not the ones that do that I’m interested in. It’s the ones that don’t that fascinate me. My significantly better half for instance. OK, she drinks Kriek or maybe even a straight Geueze if pushed, but anything with any hopping is a no go. She thinks it’s the way she was brought up. If that is the case then why does she still not want to drink beer? She’s read this and is unable to answer the question.

    • I agree– how do we get women who don’t drink beer to try it? I think the key is to focus on women who drink beer and figure out what was the first beer they really loved, or how was the context and meaning of beer different in their lives than women who won’t touch the stuff. The whole topic fascinates me as well.

  7. Fascinates me too & I like being surprised by the answers – the received wisdom seems to be that (all!) women will go for un-bitter golden ales with some fruitiness or sickly sweet crummy fruit beers – whereas I’ve seen non-beer-literate women have a taste of our medium/strong flavoured coffee/choc 4% dark ale & love it, yet be entirely unimpressed with our hoppy golden ale.

    About the Skinny Blonde idiocy – did you spot this?
    http://tinyurl.com/skinnyblonde

  8. the pump clip and name of the beer (dishy debbie) is not sleezy i am very fortunate that i can express my love for the woman i love in what i do ,john smith owner of hart brewery

    • Express love all you want, but your marketing strategy is not helping to sell your beer.

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