Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Is Beer Advertising Becoming... Modern?

You might have noticed this lately. It's a marketing trend that seems to be taking hold in 2016. There's a sea change occurring in the world of fermented grain beverages.
Stereotypes and sexism seem (and the key word there is seem) to be on the decline. 
After decades of questionable approaches to beer advertising, running from the paternalistic to the sex-charged, brewers are beginning to drop the old, lad-centric model.
We’ve even said “Hoo-roo” to Foster’s Brad and Dan. Which I have to admit I’m pretty sad about. They had some great ads.
What’s the driver of all of this sudden modernity in the world of beer marketing?
It comes down to women.
One by one, brewers are starting to realise that growing a market that has largely stalled in Europe and the US involves reaching out to more than just one gender.
And when you’re trying to reach out to a demographic that comprises half of the overall population it’s generally not a great move to start the conversation with insults and objectification.
Copyright Jonathan McIntosh, Flickr.

Case in point.

A group in Brazil recently launched a ‘feminist’ beer to protest the portrayal of women in Brazilian beer advertising, where women have only two roles: as eye-candy or as a prize that men win by drinking a certain beer. It was also a critique of the masculine tilt of the Brazilian ad world in general. Do you know how many Brazilian advertising workers are women?


It's small wonder that Brazilian beer ads follow formulaic, dated tropes about women. And small wonder too that people are sick and tired of it. With this kind of backlash, it’s the right time for brewers to move their marketing into that foreign land that we call the 21st century.

Of course, there are exceptions to the trend.

As I've noted on Idle Advertising before, Bud Light for one has seemed determined to remain depressingly backwards. For a beer that still holds the largest market share in the US, Bud Light acts like a brand in its death-throes, lurching from controversy to controversy, from strange new product line to strange new product line.

Great job guys. Hopefully the latest reboot will change some things.

It’s important to note here that this isn’t about “beer for women”. It’s not about special fruity beer-ish drinks and specially formulated beers to suit a different gender (though these can have their place). And it’s certainly not about writing ads which talk about “women drinking beer, aren’t women all happy drinking our beer, hey women look at this beer, it’s for you! You can have special girl-beer, not like the male beer! Well done!”
From UK beer expert Melissa Cole:
“‘Chick’ beer, ‘clear’ beer, ‘low-calorie’ beer, ‘low-carb’ beer: all have been aimed at women and all have failed. We don’t much like being metaphorically patted on the a--- by the marketers.”
Ads that make a point of explicitly targeting one gender have a tendency to turn off both.

Show, don’t tell.

Italian beer Peroni’s advertising has led the way in this area, by making its core campaigns centre on characters who embrace the Italian way of life, regardless of gender. It's not about telling women that they should drink Peroni. It's about showing that anyone can drink it.
Peroni’s latest ad campaign, Vita al Mare, has just launched. What do you see in it? Glamorous lifestyles. Beautiful people. Golden Age Italy, and the Mediterranean way of life.
You also see men and women enjoying Peroni, with no judgement – or even the suggestion that there’s something unusual about people from both genders drinking a beer. 
Acting as though there’s something ‘wrong’ with a certain group enjoying your product is inherently self-limiting. 
And the best way to get rid of such a limit is to not even acknowledge that it exists.

So, what is the way forward?

Put simply, it’s to treat your potential customers as individuals, rather than as categories. There’s a world of difference between targeting “women”, and targeting individual people who happen to be female. 
Modern consumers are better informed. They have access to an ever-widening variety of content. And they resent being treated impersonally when the brand choice – as with beer – is so personal.
Slapping a label on someone and declaring them categorised is not a good way to build a real relationship. But if we treat both men and women as living people rather than tick-boxes, we’re on our way to a more modern, more productive interaction between our brand and our intended audience.
Copyright Didriks, Flickr.

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