A complaint against the sexualised marketing of the Crafty Bavarian beer brand has been dismissed by the alcohol advertising watchdog, but not without a stern rebuke for its serial offending owner, Urban Purveyor Group.
As reported in March, the Crafty Bavarian beers launched into Bavarian Bier Cafe and Munich Brauhaus venues each feature a different girl and accompanying tasting notes full of innuendo.
Later that same month, the chief adjudicator of the Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) Panel received a complaint from a member of the public that the Crafty Bavarian “conflates women with beer in order to sell its product”.
“This style of advertising objectifies women and suggests that women – or ‘girls’ as described on the site – can be categorised in the same way as consumable products,” the complaint said, according to the ABAC Panel determination handed down last month.
“The characters are all sexualised and depicted as either subordinate or sexually manipulative and violent. These are harmful stereotypes about women and women’s sexuality used to sell beer to men,” the Panel summarised.
Family-friendly business: UPG
Urban Purveyor Group said in response it had already made changes to the Crafty Bavarian copy seen by the complainant, subsequent to advice received from the ABAC pre-vetting service, which operates independently to complaints adjudication and does not guarantee a favourable finding by the ABAC Panel in the event of a complaint.
In any case, the company said the complainant had misinterpreted the advertisements, which are “arguably based on the idea of empowerment, and recognise the multidimensional qualities of women”.
“We are a family-friendly business, with a large contingent of respected and highly valued female team members and by no means would we ever discriminate against women,” it said.
The Panel said it was its responsibility to adjudicate on the marketing material in its original form, as seen by the complainant.
It said that while the material “might be argued to be demeaning to women and reliant on stereotypes of female characteristics”, this fell outside the remit of the ABAC standard, which requires that “offensive behaviour related to alcohol use is not to be encouraged by the advertising e.g. drunken loutish behaviour”.
“The complaint references stereotypes of female behaviour which are sexually based, however it cannot be fairly said that the marketing is promoting say alcohol fuelled violence or sexual harassment influenced by alcohol use.”
The Panel further found the advertising did not contravene the ABAC standard by implying that sexual or other success would be achieved by consuming the Crafty Bavarian beers.
“The sexual language is linked to the characteristics of the beer and not to its impact,” the Panel said.
Get with the times, ABAC tells UPG
The Panel therefore found it was obliged to dismiss the complaint, but did not pass up the opportunity to roundly castigate Urban Purveyor Group for its track record on advertising.
“The style of marketing consistently adopted by the company, which is centred upon dated stereotypes of women and focuses on women as the object of the male view appears out of step with modern Australia,” the Panel said.
“As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded when asked why it was important to have an equal number of women in his Cabinet – ‘Because it’s 2016’.
“Possibly the company might equally realise that it is ‘2016’ in devising its marketing,” concluded the Panel.