BrewDog’s launch of a pink “beer for girls”, ostensibly to raise awareness about gender pay inequality and sexist advertising, has come in for criticism as a cynical marketing stunt.
The independent craft brewer has launched a “new” Pink IPA – in reality a repackaging of its flagship Punk IPA – with a pledge to sell it a fifth cheaper in its bars to “those who identify as women”. The discount is aimed to reflect the 18.1% average gender pay gap between men and women in the UK.
“The fact that the gender pay gap is still an issue in 2018 shows that a lot of lip service is being paid, but not enough action is being taken to tackle inequality,” said the BrewDog global head of marketing, Sarah Warman.
“With Pink IPA, we are making a statement the only way we know how – with beer. The love of beer is not gendered. Beer is universal. Beer is for everyone.”
We’ve created a beer for girls. And it’s pink. Because women only like pink and glitter, right?
Lets show that enough is enough with stereotypes. pic.twitter.com/g1zonXFInm
March 6, 2018
BrewDog has disclosed a 2.8% median gender pay gap in favour of men across its global business, which employs 1,000 people. It is yet to file its official figure for the UK, where most staff are employed.
The Aberdeenshire-based company says it will donate 20% of sales of bottles of its “beer for girls” and Punk IPA to causes that fight against gender inequality.
The blue-branded Punk IPA will be sold at the regular price, a discrepancy the brewer says it hopes will “trigger questions about why women continue to earn less than their male counterparts”.
Sara Barton the director of Brewster’s Brewing Company and instigator of Project Venus, a network of female brewers, says BrewDog’s goals are laudable but consumers may not understand its approach to such sensitive subjects.
“BrewDog is trying to be clever, sarcastic and ironic but I think it may be viewed as a patronising beer from one of the big boys,” she said. “I applaud the thought – it is an issue that needs highlighting in brewing and beyond – but it may be too subtle for people to understand, over their heads and therefore patronising.”
Paul Domenet, an executive at design firm Dew Gibbons whose female-focused clients include Aussie, Coty and Baby Dove, said: “However much they clothe it in a good cause it might be more to do with wanting more of a share of the lucrative female drinkers’ market.”
If you have to explain the joke then it’s probably not a very good joke.
March 6, 2018
BrewDog says the “lurid pink” packaging and stereotyped Pink IPA brand name are meant to be a “send-up of the lazy marketing efforts targeting the female market”.
“There is a long history of products that pander and patronise through harmful, sexist stereotypes and vulgar imagery, and we’re rallying to put an end to this nonsense,” said Warman.
A beer industry blogger, The Crafty Beeress, questioned whether BrewDog’s tongue-in-cheek approach to such serious issues was appropriate.
“If you have to explain the joke then it’s probably not a very good joke,” she tweeted. Jo Stevens, the Labour MP for Cardiff Central, also questioned the brewer’s tactics.
“I’m a huge @Brewdog fan but oh dear me….,” she tweeted.
Jo Stevens (@JoStevensLabour)
I’m a huge @Brewdog fan but oh dear me…. https://t.co/7o4f9Hugaz
March 6, 2018
Proceeds from the four weeks of sales in the UK will go to the Women’s Engineering Society, a charity and a professional network of women engineers, scientists and technologists. Pink IPA will also be sold in South Korea, Ireland, Germany, the US and the Netherlands.