The beer brocialists at Brewdog are at it again.
Not satisfied at only having offended the transgender community – with an attempt at launching a pale ale boasting “gender-changing” hops back in 2015 – the company have returned to offend women across the UK.
This time they’re offering a pink “beer for girls”; just in time for us ladies to indulge ourselves on International Women’s Day. In a press release that was potentially written by somebody who hasn’t read a newspaper in the three years since their last ill-thought-out campaign, the brewery announced the launch of Pink IPA – with a tone deafness that is not limited to its name and colour.
“Beer is for everyone and is not defined by colour,” drawls Brewdog’s website. “We’ve made our flagship beer Punk IPA, pink. Pink IPA might look different on the outside, but it’s exactly the same on the inside. Just like the female workforce.”
Aside from the fact that the hard shell/soft centre binary is a description more commonly associated with a crab, it’s heartening to know that a supposedly feminist beer has been launched with the patronising, lazy concern of marketing’s one and only Feminism Lite.
Feminism Lite, a movement co-opted by brands looking to capitalise on the emerging mainstream consciousness of feminism, intends to make as much cash as possible from the female pound without addressing the underlying issues that perpetuate gender inequality.
And while the brand does intend to give female buyers of its beer a 20 per cent discount, the offering is rendered piecemeal when the company can’t even bother to get its tone right.
As intersectional feminist campaigner Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie said, Feminism Lite is a concept in which the benevolence of part-time male feminists is integral to the lacklustre nature of support.
Stick whichever jokey label you want on it, but sexism still exists in branding and workforces across the country – and pertinently, in the pubs that stock Brewdog’s beer.
According to a recent Unite survey conducted in the wake of the #MeToo allegations, 56.3 per cent of women working in bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels have been targeted by a member of the public, while 22.7 per cent say they have been harassed by a manager.
Brewdog may have since cited their intentions as “#sarcasm” and ironic stuntdom, but the reality is that the sexism that is so distant from their worldview is a painful everyday reality for women.
Despite an apparent attempt at reclaiming the disastrous campaign on Twitter, with the assertion that “enough is enough with stereotypes”, the company are in no position to alter the agenda when they buy into its tropes in the first place. If you have to explain your jokes to your audience, then they’re probably not translating in the first place.
And while we should congratulate the growing accessibility of the feminist movement, it doesn’t exist to be capitalised by the trendy bros of the beer scene.
Perhaps if Brewdog want to make a sustainable, committed contribution, they should speak to the women on the frontline that love and work in beer – rather than attempting an ironic bro joke at the expense of its potential buyers.
It’s evident that Brewdog are going to be learning at least one lesson from this PR disaster: feminism is for life, not just Q1.