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Note to Ad Execs: Women Like Beer (in fact, some of them LOVE beer)

January 17th, 2009     by Michelle Schwartz     Comments

The latest advertising abomination (adbomination?) to make the rounds is a campaign for Israel’s Gold Star beer. These ridiculous ads, structured as cartoony flowcharts, trade on the old trope that men are low-maintenance sex hounds who just want to drink beer and get laid, while as women are high-maintenance fashion lunatics who spend five hours obsessing over what shoes they wear before going out for girly cocktails in hopes of meeting a knight in shining armor who will marry them so they can pop out baby after baby and live happily ever after. The tag line for this lovely campaign? “Thank God you’re a man.”

Click here to see a larger image, along with the rest of the campaign (it only gets worse).

My partner had a theory that this campaign is playing on a Jewish prayer recited every morning by devout men, part of which contains the text “Thank you God for not having made me a woman.” I don’t know whether or not this is true, but it could be argued that many Jewish men in Israel would be familiar with that prayer. Perhaps someone here, who has more experience with matters of Judaism than me, can weigh in on the matter.

Jewish satire or not, this campaign is just yet another entry in a long line of sexist alcohol ads that sell booze to men by insulting and degrading women. From the Coors Light Mystery Mansion to that pervert, Captain Morgan, alcohol is consistently sold as if women weren’t major consumers making up half the world’s population. Also, those flowcharts are stupid. My friend Dana, who sent me this campaign, suggested a more appropriate flowchart for women:

“Me at the bar —> My Delicious Beer —> Wishing you would leave me the fuck alone”

Eden Fenrick also thought the flowcharts were inane and kind of nonsensical, so she designed her own bizarre flowcharts where two men lead to unicorns or goldfish or even ice cream. For me, this was a great improvement, as I love ice cream, unicorns, goldfish and gay men. Now, where’s my beer?

Eden Fenrick

More of Eden’s flowcharts can be seen here and here

What will it take to get the booze industry off their addiction to sexist advertising? Women actually making up a huge market for alcohol doesn’t seem to have worked. Sadly, me ranting about it constantly hasn’t worked, either.

There are brands that have moved away from the “appeal to men by hating on women” method, at least temporarily. For instance, this summer, the Nova Scotia brewer, Keith’s, was running a contest similar to the Coors Light Mystery Mansion, except instead of only inviting men to a stripper party, they invited both men and women to a rocking concert celebrating the birthday of their founder, Alexander Keith. Guinness, the company that was briefly thought to have been behind one of the most offensive ads in history (the ad turned out to be a hoax, filmed by somebody not affiliated with Guinness), has actually spent their formidable marketing budget creating entertaining and responsible campaigns that don’t even feature humans or that just focus on how cool Guinness looks when it’s poured, so clearly it’s not impossible to make a really cool ad that doesn’t offend half the world’s consumers.

So, how can we get the alcohol industry to stop degrading women in order to sell booze? Things I’ve tried so far that haven’t worked: Writing nasty letters to marketing departments, passionate blogging, adbusting, ranting to anyone who will listen. Things I’m not willing to try: Boycotting booze. Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

Tags: media savvy

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