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The Bar Man - How close to the line?

Where do you draw the line? When it comes to beer advertising, the 1991 TV advert for Old Mississippi crosses it for sure.

There a group of men out on a trip and as they sit by the stream, one of them suggest that life doesn’t get any better. Then it does.

They find a huge gold nugget, cans of Old Mississippi beer start dropping in by parachute and the Swedish Bikini Team arrive on a boat and begin to dance and gyrate. It is one of many from that era that look ridiculous today.

More recently, some people might recall the fuss that was generated when Slaters’ ‘Top Totty’ was banned from the bar in the House of Commons.

I can’t see that there would be much discussion about that being the correct decision in the present climate, and I must admit I was surprised to find that it was still being produced, especially with the following description on the brewery’s website ‘A stunning blonde beer, full bodied with a voluptuous aroma.’

You would think that there comes a point where enough potential customers are alienated to cost the producers and retailers a significant amount of money. I don’t see myself as a snowflake, but I would think very hard before purchasing a beer which wanted to broadcast that sort of message.

What of St Pauli Girl Lager, brewed in Bremen in the Beck’s brewery?

Since 1982, St. Pauli Girl Beer has chosen a model to represent the beer brand nationally each year and appear on the popular St. Pauli Girl poster. The beer is only produced for export which possibly influences their recurring choice of Playboy models. How close to the line does that come?

One brewery that has responded to criticism is Castle Rock. Their second best seller is Elsie Mo, which gets its name from the Low Colour Maris Otter used in the recipe.

For many years the marketing material has featured a pin up style drawing of a young lady inspired by the nose art used on American aircraft during the war.

Castle Rock have decided to rebrand the beer by illustrating their promotional material with a drawing of a female pilot from the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) who delivered planes to the front lines.

So full marks to Castle Rock who’ acknowledge that the sexualised presentation of Elsie Mo is deemed not acceptable in a culture that strives for, and celebrates, equality.’, and have put her literally in the driving seat.

As we say goodbye to the ‘walk on girls’ at darts tournaments and the ‘grid girls’ in formula one motor racing, perhaps we need a re-evaluation about how we market alcoholic drinks and pubs.

The many thousands who have signed the petition in favour of retaining the darts girls demonstrate that the line is drawn in a different place for each of us, but I suggest two questions that may help clarify the issues.

First, if the advertising was not already in existence, would you introduce it? And second, would you be happy to see men replace the women with the same standard of dress and sexual suggestion?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then it might be a sign that it is time to move on. It might even help to increase sales.

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