It is no secret that we live in a society where marketing is often as important, if not more so, than the product on offer. Campaigns and strategies are tailor-made to a certain audience, with huge funding and man power behind the scenes. While some are a success, others have begged the question: how on earth did this get approved? I’m sure we are all aware of that Kendall Jenner Pepsi advert, or the pink and purple ‘comfortable’ Bic pens for women. The latest marketing strategy courting controversy is the new Pink IPA: Beer for Girls launched by BrewDog and what better day to investigate its motives than International Women’s Day?
The beer is being launched in a bid to bring awareness to the gender pay gap, and to take a swing at sexist gendered marketing. To do so, they are promoting a pink-labelled bottle which reads ‘beer for girls’. Of course, this is ironic. However, the only ironic thing about it is the backlash it has received for perpetuating the very thing it claims to be standing against. The beer is being sold at twenty-percent less for anyone identifying as female, with some of the proceeds over the next four weeks being donated to charities that fight gender inequality. While these efforts are not to be overlooked, the authenticity of their actions are questionable.
The tag line, ‘this is not beer for girls, this is beer for equality’ is said to be satirical, with its only purpose to be drawing attention to the ‘sexist marketing to women’. However, the creation of a woman-friendly beer in itself simply isolates women from men creating a separate demographic for a product that is not specific to one gender. Why can’t women drink the same beer as men? If the purpose was to support gender equality surely the idea would be to create a completely genderless beer, advertising equally to both men and women. While their motivations may be in good faith, it is easy to see how this could be seen as a simple marketing strategy.
The product has been released ahead of, and inspired by, International Women’s Day. While it is commendable that big companies are waking up to the injustice that is sexism and the pay gap, and that this product will be beneficial to fighting the latter, the motivation behind it should be questioned. The controversy surrounding this has drawn attention not only to the issue itself, but also to the company and the product, so in that sense the marketing has been successful.
The saying goes that there is no such thing as bad publicity. But if this is simply a case of a large company using gender inequality to sell a product then it is not commendable at all. BrewDog has reported a gender pay gap of 2.8% in favour of men and have not released figures of UK employees, which account for a large proportion of staff. If BrewDog is serious about tackling these issues, perhaps it should begin by tackling them inside their own company.
Perhaps BrewDog is simply trying to do something good. Or perhaps they are taking advantage of a serious issue to sell more products and make more money. Either way, I’m not sure the excuse of ‘it’s ironic’ is a good enough one to simply stick a pink label on a bottle and say that it is for girls. The point of equality is that there is no difference, and satirical and ironic or not, there is nothing equal about this product.