Mad (wo)Men

Women and beer: always something that’s topical nowadays – and rightly so when only 15% of the majority of our population drink beer. In the craft scene there’s a wealth of activities, great female beer bloggers, celebrity female chefs endorsing beer, brewsters and brewster collaborations and a broad mindedness from all, open to the possibilities and welcoming to the idea of women leading the beer agenda. This effort is worthwhile: if you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, ‘The Tipping Point’ you’ll know how a confluence of interest, memes, epidemics and mavens can drive a point of inflection*, a strap on turbo booster to the awareness or usage of your product or service.  This craft beer originated push is critical – it’s the sign of a healthy category – and will make a difference in the long term to the acceptance and engagement in beer amongst women.

Of course, it can be accelerated, and the biggest potential accelerator is if those with the real marketing muscle right now – of brand, of distribution, of financial clout – put their shoulder in to push too.  Which may be an odd thing to say – surely the craft brewers are largely pressuring against the big boys?  Well, yes and no. There are just some elephant-sized tasks that need to be supported by all – and engaging women with beer is a stand out topic.   Commerically, it’s not the most important – getting young adult men to enter or stay in the sector when they reach legal drinking age is a huge prize as they are likely to consume beer as their main alcoholic beverage throughout their adult life. But perceptually, getting women to …well, at least be interested in beer and occasionally consume it, is Job One.

The history of beer across most mature beer markets in the last 30 years is littered with mistakes in this area.  Cack-handed attempts to actively target women – brands such as ‘Brunette’, ‘Eve’ (was this beer?) and more recently ‘Animée’ now make up beer’s back catalogue.  But lessons are being learned – a case in point is Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s new advert – take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-IwbtrQ6eI

Nastro screen shot

Peroni: Una Storia Di Isparazione

Of course, judging advertising is as subjective as judging a beer, but in this instance a small straw poll backs up my hypothesis.  Here’s why it works:

  1. Respect. The interactions between the characters display warmth, respect, flirtatiousness and a little longing.  Yes, there’s the rather outdated male boss / female typing pool dynamic – but the idea here is the growing up; the liberation & empowerment of women throughout the course of the advert.
  2. BelievableIn ‘Let There Be Beer’ there is a bespectacled female office worker knocking back a pint of frothy brown stuff in a bar, almost necking it, engaged in the banter and probably pinching blokes’ bottoms.  Here, the social setting is urbane, is cool and is real – not typical, but believable and attainable.
  3. It’s an advert. It’s an advert for a beer, one that exists already. Not a beer for women.  And that’s the critical point.
  4. Men. Men find it appealing too. Men appreciate the men in the advert. Men appreciate (and OK, ogle at) the women in the advert. Men appreciate the beer in the advert.  Job done – and women recognise that men appreciate these things this too.
  5. Beauty.  Whoever made the advert had a big budget and knew how to use it.  It’s a consistent theme in alcohol advertising – particularly in spirits and brands such as Guinness and Stella Artois – the communication is part of the visceral feel of the brand.  If it looks and feels sophisticated, high quality and beautiful, then those same values become reflected on your brand without the need to say it.  And the fact that it feels like a scene from Mad Men can’t fail to help, even if it is slightly ironic.

Turns out, it’s not that hard.  I wonder who else will copy?

* Malcolm Gladwell, ‘The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference‘, Abacus, 2000

©Beer Tinted Spectacles, 2013

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