Sunday 27 January 2008

Blimey - people DO read my articles!

It can sometimes be a bit of a wilderness being a writer - you very rarely get to engage on a one-to-one basis with your readers and it's normally only when they are angry with you for some reason.

Often it is over a perceived slight, whether real or (as is more normally the case) imaginary, tiny inaccuray or, very rarely, over a bloody great big howler you would like to commit to the voids of space.

But, every so often, you write an opinion piece that gets a response and so far - and I'm guaranteed to be dooming myself to an absolute shit storm tomorrow - it's been good.

You see I wrote a piece for What's Brewing? about a new femALE (geddit?!) which has been widely touted as the best thing since Lycra for the fairer sex.

You may, or may not depending on how well you know me, be surprised to hear that whilst I don't have a problem with this per se I do have a problem with the way it has been marketed the major reasons being:
  • If you want to criticise the real ale market for pandering to men don't describe your figurehead female as young and attractive half-way through your press release
  • Don't put daisies on the glass - that makes you no better than these alleged misogynistic marketeers, there's not a lot of blokes who will drink from a glass with flowers on it - in fact who drinks Flower's these days at all?!
  • And finally, don't tell me that a daisy offsets the fact that you've created a handled jug - it's not feminine, I don't want to drink from it because I'm not trying to prove something, are we not over ladette syndrome yet?

I will be asking editor Tom Stainer if I can reproduce the article on my blog at a later date, however, gist of it is that marketing beer to women is about NOT marketing beer to women.

Yeah, I know, very contradictory and there's probably blokes out there saying 'bloody typical woman' - but my point is this: why are we trying to market beer at women when we could be promoting grass-roots in pub and in-supermarket beer education at the whole damn population for a fraction of the cost that a patronising ad campaign can be put together for?!

Sod the advertising, sod the magic bullet, and certainly sod someone putting daisies on my glass - particularly when you've put a bloody great ugly handle on the damn thing - bring on education, interest, confidence to order a beer in a strange pub and know not only that I'll like it but to send it back if I don't because it's not right!

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing they say - which is why I'm just smart enough to know that I want to be more educated about beer, and so do a lot of other members of both sexes.


Anonymous said...

Don't you think Whats Brewing and CAMRA as a whole are a bit guilty of the same? I'm referring to their 'habit' of always showing young female drinkers prominently in, for example, GBBF photos. (That said, I've just checked their website and can't find any examples but I'm sure you know what I'm on about).

Anonymous said...

I've always firmly believed you should never 'market' ale at either men or women, but at (adult) people.

Melissa Cole said...

Hiya Fatman,
I haven't seen the final piece yet by I believe that the editor left my criticism of CAMRA's Ninkasi campaign in 2002 in there.

I think everyone's at sea on what how to tackle this issue and I like Paul's comment that you shouldn't market at the different sexes but at adults - pretty much what I feel about it.

I'm going to contact Tom today and ask him to send me the subbed version so I can post it so you can see what I mean.

Thanks for your feedback all - keep it coming!


JamesP said...

A beer designed for and by women seems to imply that the all the rest is designed specifically for men only and is undrinkable by women. It immediately stuck me as rather patronizing.

In recent years there has been an explosion of pale beers using American hops with their citrusy notes. These have proved very popular with new beers drinkers which includes woman, to the extent it's getting harder to find a traditional dark bitter in some pubs and festivals. With names invariably using sun, golden, summer etc. these do well to describe themselves to newbies who are weary of getting something named after some esoteric farming term.

Anything of quality should be marketed on the merits of the product and not on the merits of a demographic.

Anonymous said...

As a new brewer I'm really interested in all this - I don't want to patronise men OR women or play to the same old stereotypes, but I do want to get more women interested in real, tasty beer, and I know that there are lots of us out there who have in the past been put off by the macho image of some real ales. What's the way forward? All sensible ideas will be considered for our next recipe ....

Melissa Cole said...

Personally I think the key to any good brew is that it's balanced - and that if you are going to have a stand-out taste in your beer it has to be justified, by this I mean caramel is a fine flavour profile but if it overwhelms everything else then it's not a balanced beer, same with hops - IPA being the best example, yes it has blaring hops but a good IPA still has a firm foundation of malty flavours too.

Anonymous said...

Agree with all you say. But, round this neck of the woods Flowers is a common surname (no relation!), so folk'll drink it if they can find it.