Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Gender Stereotyping in Spirits Marketing Can Lead to Problems

     #MeToo and the fight to combat sexism in wider society is being reflected in the spirits industry, with moves afoot to ban stereotypical advertising and promote inclusive. But there is still more to be done to put an end to gender bias in spirits marketing.   Over the last few years, the collective conversation about gender equality has shifted up a gear. In 2017, the worldwide Women’s March brought attention to issues such as women’s rights, healthcare reform and workplace parity. Meanwhile, discussions about sexual harassment in Hollywood, governments and big businesses catapulted the #MeToo movement into the mainstream.  The issue has become more prevalent in the drinks world as brands face a crackdown on gender stereotyping in advertising, with a number of initiatives and regulations unveiled in the past 12 months.

     Major brands have been criticized for their portrayals of gender in the past. Historically, it wasn’t unusual to see sexualized representations of women in spirits marketing, and images of scantily clad pin-ups are still used by some today.  Past examples include Bulgarian brand Flirt Vodka, famous for its series of raunchy posters, while sex has also driven publicity for Lust Vodka, Skyy Vodka, Evan Williams Bourbon, Bacardi rum and Cabana cacha├ža. “The whisky industry has come a long way since the advertising from the 1960s and 1970s, when we saw advertising being polarized as either ‘drink this and you’ll be successful’ or ‘sex sells’,” says Georgie Bell.  “Some of that sort of marketing still comes up in advertising today, but less and less so.”

     It’s not just specific products that are being assigned a gender, either – entire alcohol categories have been coded as either male or female too. Tom Harvey, co-­founder of alcohol marketing agency Yesmore, says the pink gin category “feels like it’s a movement to target women through a somewhat basic way of using a color that is stereotypically seen to attract women”.  Last year, several companies unveiled new products to coincide with Women’s History Month in March and International Women’s Day.   One of the biggest women-inspired launches was that of Jane Walker, a limited edition iteration of Johnnie Walker Black Label. However well intentioned, the launch backfired with a number of consumers and commentators arguing it was patronizing and unnecessary.   “What was intended to be a celebration of women was interpreted by many as Johnnie Walker trying to appeal to a female audience, and generated much criticism”.   Nevertheless, the brand was also praised for donating US$1 from every bottle sold to organizations championing women’s causes.
     “Targeting women with feminine brands or female celebrities doesn’t work”. She says: “How about doing more to celebrate the real people behind the spirit brands, whether that’s a re­telling of the founders’ and distillers’ stories that so many brands have in abundance, or a celebration of the real distillers and ambassadors these brands have today. Whether they be men or women, their stories would in many cases provide a perfect marketing opportunity.”
Read More at https://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2019/03/analysis-gender-stereotyping-in-spirits-marketing/