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Backlash over Brewdog’s ‘satirical’ Pink IPA launch ahead of International Women’s Day

Beer fans have hit back at craft beer giant BrewDog after it launched a limited edition “Pink IPA” — a Punk IPA which has been bottled with pink labels describing it as “beer for girls” — to promote gender equality.

(Photo: BrewDog)

“Satirically” dubbed ‘Beer for Girls’, Pink IPA, which was released on Tuesday 6th March, is BrewDog’s “clarion call to close the gender pay gap in the UK and around the world and to expose sexist marketing to women, particularly within the beer industry,” said an emailed statement.

“BrewDog will be using its most iconic beer, Punk IPA, as a weapon in this fight, packaging it in lurid pink and renaming to Pink IPA – a send-up of the lazy marketing efforts targeting the female market.”

The brewer will also be serving Punk IPA beer with a 20% discount for women at BrewDog bars on 8th March.

It said that 20% of proceeds from the sale of its limited edition Pink IPA and regular Punk IPA bottles will go towards “causes that fight against gender inequality,”, including The Women’s Engineering Society, which promotes the role of women in STEM industries, and 9to5, which addresses the gender pay gap.

“BrewDog’s approach to tackling the gender pay gap acknowledges the root causes of the widespread underrepresentation of women in certain industries,” said the statement, “particularly in science, technology, education and maths (STEM).”

“As such, the brewery’s donations will go to causes that address current gender disparities and also seek to boost the number of young girls interested in a future in STEM industries. As the UK’s fastest growing craft brewer, BrewDog is particularly interested and invested in developing a new wave of diversity in brewing.”

(Photo: BrewDog)

However, while many were enthusiastic about the brewery’s call to close the gender pay gap and greater representation of women in STEM industries, consumers also felt the PR stunt was a “poorly placed concept.”

Despite the press release insisting that the beer is a send-up of “lazy marketing efforts targeting the female market,” many said that swapping blue labels for pink in a promotion around international Women’s Day was also a lazy marketing effort targeting women.

One Twitter user, meanwhile, unearthed an old label for “Trashy Blonde”  — a blonde ale which was discontinued by BrewDog, which the brewer advertised as “a titillating, neurotic, peroxide, punk of a pale ale. Combining attitude, style, substance and a little bit of low self esteem for good measure.”

On the other hand, some didn’t see a problem with BrewDog’s strategy, praising the limited edition labels for highlighting issues around gendered drinks advertising.

In the initial statement sent out by BrewDog, global marketing boss Sarah Warman said: “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. We want to accelerate change by empowering more women to make their voices heard and calling out industries and employees that need to do more. With Pink IPA, we are making a statement the only way we know how – with beer.”

“Women make up a small but growing percentage of my peers within the beer industry, and with Pink IPA we are hoping to welcome more people who identify as female into craft beer. It’s an incredible industry to be a part of, and the more women we can get working behind the bar, the more women we can hope to see the other side of it.”

“Sexism in the beer industry is rife. We can no longer ignore that its existence prevents plenty of incredible women joining our eclectic and exciting industry.

“There is a long history of products that pander and patronise through harmful, sexist stereotypes and vulgar imagery, and we’re rallying to put an end to this nonsense.”

The tagline ‘Beer for Girls’ is used “satirically”, according to BrewDog’s press release. (Photo: BrewDog)

The backlash comes less than a week after Bourbon maker Johnnie Walker came under fire for an International Women’s Day promotion of its own.

The Diageo-owned brand gave its Black Label a makeover, turning its striding man logo into a woman for a ‘Jane Walker’ limited edition.

Much like BrewDog, Diageo pledged to donate a portion of its profits from Jane Walker whiskey to charity supporting organisations that promote women, including Monumental Women and She Should Run, but consumers were turned off by the attempt to market the whiskey to one gender.

The bottle, a 250,000 limited-edition run of Black Label is timed to debut in March for Women’s History Month.

Brewdog has been contacted for comment.

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