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Why are Beer Commercials Still Ignoring Women?

A Heineken ad featuring a blonde, female robot serving beer
A Heineken ad featuring a blonde, female robot serving beer

I drink beer. I’m a woman.

According to the Beer Institute, I’m not alone: women make up 25 percent of the beer market.

Hmmm. Strange. Because most beer commercials I’ve seen recently either a) don’t include any women at all;
or b) depict women solely as Barbie cheerleader types who serve men beverages.

In a 2001 USA Today article, Benj Steinmen, president of Beer Marketer’s Insights, gives a little insight into this paradox: “Brewers have been reluctant to market to women for fear of alienating their core audience: men. But beer consumption among women is growing. And they like light beer.” The USA Today article goes on to cite TV ads for Amstel Light, Miller Lite, and Bud Lite as examples of a shift towards advertising beer to women.

Well, it’s almost 9 years later, and beer advertisers are still doing just that: marketing light beer to women. But most ad campaigns for beer are still eye-rollingly, ridiculously sexist.

Heineken Commercial:

Miller Light Commercial:

Bud Light Commercial:

But who cares, right? We should celebrate. We’ve been invited into the old boys’ club–as long as we stick with light and leave the real stuff to men.

In a 2008 post on the topic, a blogger at Jezebel asked:

If women already drink beer, do brewers even need to bother directing ads toward them? Or it is high time advertisers stopping ignoring half the market? And do women drink beer despite the lack of women-centered advertising, or because it’s a “manly” choice?

I drink beer because I like the taste. I like the carbonation. I like the way it compliments certain foods. I’d like to give other female beer-drinkers the benefit of the doubt and say they drink beer because they like the taste, too. And as a female beer-drinker, I’m sick of the boys-will-be-boys crap of beer advertisements. I say it’s high time advertisers stop ignoring half the market.

As a whopping 25 percent of their customer base, women have the economic power to create change. There are many ways to take action:

1. Support brands that don’t use sexist advertising.

2. Read and support initiatives such as Women Enjoying Beer, an organization that encourages breweries to better market to women and has a blog with posts on women-friendly breweries.

3. And last but not least, when you see beer ads that offend you, file an advertising complaint with the Beer Institute.

4. In Canada, you can contact the Brewers Association of Canada.

5. You can also write to breweries directly.

Will any of this actually help? I don’t know—beer advertisers seem convinced that gendering beer is the best strategy. But maybe, little by little, we can help them realize that alienating half the market just doesn’t make economic sense.

For further reading on this topic, check out:

Half a Market Waiting

–Katherine L.

Katherine Leyton is a freelance writer and poet from Toronto, Canada. She has a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University and an MsC in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. Her work focuses on the construction of gender and has appeared in The Malahat Review, The Feathertale Review, The Globe and Mail, and The South China Morning Post. She believes writing can create positive change in women’s lives and is involved with Sister Writes, a non-profit organization in Toronto that runs creative writing workshops for marginalized women.

10 thoughts on “Why are Beer Commercials Still Ignoring Women?

  1. I have banned Miller Lite, and I am the only one who drinks beer in my house, my husband doesn’t like beer. I will not buy a Miller Lite again, nor any Miller products again.
    The commercials are sexist, and demeaning to women and come on guys-they make you look like brain dead neanderthals.

  2. I found this post while searching for outrage about how sexist the most recent corona commercials are. I’d just like to point out how ridiculous and patently wrong your blog post is in saying that corona does not have sexist commercials. The most recent ones with the woman and man sitting on the beach are tremendously sexist, perhaps the most sexist commercials I’ve ever seen on tv. Which commercials are you watching?

  3. I totally agree with Jamie. The new Corona commercials are incredibly sexist! You know the woman will always get the better of the man in these ads. I guess we’re supposed to think it’s cute and laugh? Why can’t it cut both ways? How hard is that?

  4. It would be funny, and unsexist, if the commercials were like a back and forth – the woman gets the man with the lime, then the man gets the woman with the shaken bottle, and so on. But the route they’ve gone is tremendously demeaning, and should be made an example of. It is a commentary on how sexist our entire culture is that literally nobody seems to be making an issue of this.

  5. You make a good point, Jamie. I am absolutely wrong about Corona. I am writing out of Canada and the only commercials I had seen or found online by Corona at the time this post was written were not sexist. I will talk to the blog editor about changing my suggestion to support Corona. Thanks.

  6. It should also be noted that Modelo owns Corona, and if you’ve seen any of Modelo’s ads, they’re pretty strong in the running for the title of Beer Company That Hates Women the Most.

  7. I don’t drink beer, I honestly am not fond of it, but man these commercials are sexist. In fact, a lot of commercials are, since it’s always the woman who is right, awesome and intelligent, and the guy is the stupid dumb ass.

    The new Corona commercial is just annoying. I remember its predecessor, which…well okay that was dumb too. But this one was even worse. The first time, the guy looks at a woman walking by, and the woman next to him squeezes the lime on him. And then in this new one, SHE looks at another man passing by, the guy shakes her bottle, and I thought “Ha! Yeah! Get back at her!”, but then she takes HIS bottle.

    Sexist and stupid, and unfair. So a man looks at a woman, he gets punished. A woman looks at a man, the man gets back at her since she’s doing what he did before, and then he gets punished again for trying to get back at her? Where’s the fairness in that?

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