Mocking sexism by creating a sexist product is not a path most companies would choose, but then the founders of BrewDog have always said they wanted to be a little bit different.
Recognised by most as a PR stunt straight away, the relaunch of the company’s flagship beer Punk IPA, to Pink IPA is, in BrewDog’s own words, a “send up of the lazy marketing efforts targeting the female market.”
So far, so subversive. But what’s the point?
The new beer was launched just before International Women’s Day, and actually, is here to make a few points, claims BrewDog, apart from just poke fun at any brand that launches a pink product to target women.
However, the beer costs 20% less than the original blue labelled equivalent, which is intended to “trigger questions about why women continue to earn less than their male counterparts.”
In addition, 20% of proceeds from both IPA formats over the next four weeks will go to a charity which supports women and girls in science and technology careers.
And yet people are still offended. For those that don’t get it at all: fair enough, be offended. Complain, get onto Twitter and rant as much as you can. That’s the whole point of this kind of PR stunt – to get people annoyed and to get them talking.
But there are others that know it’s a stunt yet are still offended. Some consumers have pointed out that the founders of the company are both male, so this is not their joke to make. Others say that it’s a bit complex: that the well-meaning messages get lost and need time to be explained. More point out that BrewDog could, in all fairness, hire a few more women full stop, or close its own pay gap (which, at just over 2%, is admittedly a lot less than the 20% UK average).
For BrewDog, it’s probably a case of the more offence the better. Their stunt has been on every major news outlet this week and the outrage (and defence) on social media has been fervent.
Some people are always going to be offended. This stunt has set out to be deliberately provocative, in order to promote a company’s products. Its sarcastic tone fits perfectly with the company’s overall brand, but the charity donation and ‘message’ gives the campaign the perfect justification.
And if it does genuinely go a little way towards the demise of pink ‘lady products’ being launched, then heck – we’ll drink to that.