A BrewDog Marketing Fail – Pink IPA

BrewDog’s launch of a pink “beer for girls”, which the Scottish brewery positioned as a marketing initiative to raise awareness about gender pay inequality and sexist advertising has come under fire…

The Guardian is reporting that BrewDog’s Pink IPA which is essentially a repackaging of its flagship Punk IPA came with a pledge to sell it a fifth cheaper in its bars to “those who identify as women.” A discount intended to reflect the 18.1% average gender pay gap between men and women in the UK.

And there’s no doubt that when BrewDog dubbed this release “Beer For Girls” (satirically or not) they were already in tricky waters. And when they dressed it in pink (good cause be damned) they might have overplayed an already muddied hand.

BrewDog explains their concept as an “overt parody on the failed, tone-deaf campaigns that some brands have attempted in order to attract women.”

But when you have to announce that what you’re doing is an “overt parody” to begin with, you are already proclaiming that might have signaling problems…

Clearly BrewDog was already worried that it’s messaging might be misconstrued by some…just not enough to pull away from their marketing gambit.

And in uncharacteristic fashion which speaks volumes, BrewDog spent way to much time explaining their good intentions…

This from BrewDog’s Global Head of Marketing, Sarah Warman.

“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. 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.”

Fair enough…But Isn’t that exactly what BrewDog did?

They gave their Punk IPA, which already has a considerable female fan base, a gender. They renamed and rebranded the beer and gave it a gender signifier that many women reject as stereotyping while explaining that that’s what they were opposing…

And many beer journalists understandably took to social media to deride BrewDog’s Pink IPA campaign…

Pink IPA is but a month-long campaign and 20% of the proceeds from Punk IPA and Pink IPA sold over the next 4 weeks will be donated to charities that fight inequality and support women, so that’s a good thing…

There’s no doubt that in so many ways BrewDog’s renegade marketing instincts are borderline genius…

But no amount of rationale or creative back-pedaling on BrewDog’s part will convince us that this isn’t a marketing play that the Scottish punk brewers wouldn’t like to take back.

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