Thursday, 15 April 2010

Showing Coors a Clear Pair of Heels

In the interests of fair and impartial journalism (something I'm accused of on occasion) I'm not going to make any assumptions about the flavour of the new Coors Clear Beer product until I've tried it.

But I'll be very clear about one thing, I'm not impressed with how it's being portrayed in the press, it's designed to get women into beer? Oh please! 

Despite the long hair, addiction to hilariously high heels and obsession with big earrings I balance that out with other areas of my life; most of my mates are lads, I play cricket and go fishing for fun and, of course, I do that most unfeminine of things, I enjoy a pint!

God, my mother must be so ashamed of me - or would be if she didn't now drink beer herself, in the golf club and everything! The shame!

I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with this world? We seem to be going completely backwards in the journey to bring the sexes closer together - and I don't mean I think I'll ever be able to lift, punch or run as well as a bloke but I damn sure know I don't need a product that's been designed for my delicate little tastebuds!

And do you know what really riles me about the way it's focusing on the beer being in bottle & clear making it, allegedly, spike-proof? It paints women as victims that something just hasn't happened to yet.

Please don't get me wrong, I will not make light of drinks being spiked in a pub - it happened to me once in a club, it was terrifying and I had a lucky escape - but is this how you want to portray beer? That it has to be clear so you're safe? Christ, I may never leave the house again!

How about designing trouser pockets to be clear so we can check people aren't carrying knives? Or transparent backpacks so we can be sure no one's carrying a bomb? And perhaps we could all embrace our inner 80s and start wearing jelly shoes again for the good of society?!

I am not a victim, I am someone who is more than capable of finding my way around the range of products on offer out there and navigating whatever life throws at me with luck, and I don't spend every waking minute looking over my shoulder in case the boogie man is coming to get me - if I do that, someone might spike my drink when I'm not looking!

And I find it interesting/depressing this move appears to coincide with a very long-standing beer education programme & PR campaign coming to a close. What? Job done? I don't think so.

Do I think that the population as a whole could know more about beer? Yes I do.

Do I believe that women have been disenfranchised by the beer market? Indeed, so let's educate them.

Am I going to back a product that seeks to collectively pat women on the arse and tell them type up the minutes neatly? No I'm bloody well not.

I am inexpressibly furious with this launch - it's almost more insulting than Eve, which at least pins its colours to the mast and says it's a patronising piece of crap. Hell they haven't even got the guts to call it a malt-based beverage, for fear of scaring the living daylights out of us girlies!

This is a negative story and not one I'm thrilled the new group Dea Latis is associated with either - just to be clear, (no pun intended) my understanding of our group has always been about getting more women to enjoy the beers that are out there, to embrace the fabulous brewing and diversity of craft brews and heritage we already have, to stop patronisation and gender bias in the beer market.

This is not helping...

P.S. when I said high heels I don't mean the ones pictured, I just thought that, somehow, there was a correlation between the two products...


  1. Holy fuckarooney! - "spike proof" beer? That's unutterably terrifying.

  2. You might have a point but too angry to stay quiet!

  3. I read this story in the Metro and spotted it straight away for what it is…. A PR company generated story for lazy journalists. Google "Coors Clear Beer" and you will reach Metro and the Daily Star, titles more likely to win awards for cutting and pasting than real journalism. We are however discussing it and that in itself generates publicity. So we should all maybe keep shtum and this clear beer may sink like Coke Tab.

  4. Hmm, nice fiery slab, here, Melissa, quite liked it.

    Keeping stumm is not necessraily the best of ideas. The exposure of a counter-argumentation is a necessary thing to avoid it slipping unnoticed in the paysage, most people not realising how offensive it is ! Lies that go unchellenged eventually turn into "well-recognised facts".

    By the way, regarding Dea Latis...

    Indeed, it's good to see people who could make a real difference get together ant tackle the issue (although seeing Carlsberg UK in there just as they are launching Eve in the UK made me shake my head in disbelief).

    But reading the blurb on the website made me wince quite a bit.
    Good thing to remind the public that women used to be a majority among brewers. But conveniently forgetting to point out that it was a household/community chore, and that the very reason women were evicted from brewing is the very fact it was becoming a business where money and careeers could be made is a touch on the hypocritical side, considering this is backed mostly by the industry.

    Overall, I felt the tone to be a fair bit patronising. It's going on about about women's misconceptions, and changing them, basically selling beer to women.

    What about empowering women consumers to reclaim beer as their own ? Nope.

    Basically the plan as I get it here is to tell women they are wrong have them give beer a try.
    Not the most productive approach, IMHO...

    A bit disappointed, here.

  5. Hi Melissa – I wanted to highlight that some of the press coverage you may have seen contains inaccuracies about the launch. To clarify - BitterSweet Partnership is planning to trial a new beer for women later this year. This is a co-creation project, which will see us developing the liquid, name and packaging, together with women.

    We’ve found in our research among 30,000 women that many prefer bottled drinks as they believe this offers them greater protection against their drinks being spiked. We’re not trying to portray women as victims – we’re responding to what women want, and what they have told us through our research. Women should always be alert, whether drinking from a glass or bottle, and ensure they don’t leave their drink left unattended.

    The fact that the beer will be clear is unrelated to safety issues, and has nothing to do with being able to see whether it’s been spiked or not. We’ll be interested to hear what you think of its flavour once it’s launched!

    I agree with you that the best way to get women to try beer is education and this product is just one part of our work at BitterSweet, we remain just as focussed on everything that encourages women to try beer - everything from education, to glassware to improving the drinking environment for women. Am surprised you think "this move appears to coincide with a very long-standing beer education programme & PR campaign coming to a close" when in fact we are more active than ever.

    Our new glass, designed by Amy Molyneux is in development, we are improving our website next month and working closely with our customers to improve the on & off trade beer experience for women as well as continuing to gather insights from as many women as possible.

  6. Hi Kristy, was one story was re-hashed by all the press or that they all mis-understood the sell-in?

  7. Bet this glass looks like a wine glass...

    That, or a kiddies spill-proof beaker with a small combination lock to prevent spiking.

  8. Er didn’t one of the big US breweries do a clear beer back in the 1990s, specifically for women, and didn’t it sink without trace? I remember seeing it in a bottle on the shelves at Sainsbury’s and marvelling at its resemblance to the water that currently sits in a glass to the right of me. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it…

  9. And of course there was B(E) from A-H (as was then), some rubbish with caffeine in it, that didn’t last long either, god knows who that was marketed at, jazz fans?

  10. Yo, awesome blog! I'm gonna follow you officially and invite you to do the same. . .
    I'm the A2 (Ann Arbor) Beer Wench, owner of a microbrewer, writer of beer industry minutia as it pertains to my company and to me (as a hot female who loves beer) as well as a bit of racy fiction on a different blog. . .
    I'm adding you to my Blog Roll--tah dah!
    Beer Wench
    (E.T. Crowe)

  11. Clear Beer - too close to Near Beer for me. Fucking horrific! April fools, still?

  12. Melissa - this was one story in that has subsequently been picked up - chinese whispers I think.

    RedNev - we have spoken to women in a variety of ways, both quantitative and qualitative using a number of different methodologies to ensure we get to the best understanding of women and their views on beer and alcohol. Key to understand is that this product is just one piece of activity that appeals to a wide number of women, but not all women are the same and we are also working on a number of other initiatives to encourage more women to drink beer.

  13. Even though I read your blog constantly, I never really got the reality of the public perception of women drinking beer here in the UK. (Kind of like my confusion about the cask ale trend) Until today, that is.

    Today, for the first time in my 20 odd drinking years, a bartender in Bracknell (a female at that), told me that 'woman don't usually like ale'.

    My first thought was 'Wow, I can't believe she just said that'. My next thought was 'wow, this is what Melissa keeps talking about'. No, really, it was. :-)

    What was more upsetting was that she couldn't tell me what kind of beer was in the tap I was pointing at (since I know very little about UK ale brands). She said 'ale'.

    Umm...ok...yeah, I got that from the "real ale" sticker on the tap.

    I asked 'what kind of ale? Blonde Ale, Amber Ale, or...?'. Her response was the utterance above and to pull me a taster glass (it was an unfiltered blonde ale, BTW and very tasty).

    It's bad enough that there seems to be this perception going around, but I would at least expect the bartender (or do you call them bar keeps?) to know at least the basics about what she's pouring.

  14. Hi Melissa!
    I loved this post!
    I am the vice president of the unique association for beer tasters in Brasil and here we have at least 20 woman that make us proud each day we drink together. So, everytime we see someone trying to say that woman can't understand and taste strong beers, we make sure to make it clear and show how idiot is sex prejudice.

    Pedro Padilha

  15. Pedro, pleasure to hear from you, isn't the web amazing that you can find common ground with someone so far away!

    We'll get rid of this kind of thinking eventually I hope!

  16. I'll sum it up with a big RIGHT ON! Melissa - education is absolutely the key and the core - when we educate everyone then we all move ahead. I share some of your ideas per your posts. Keep on bringing it - and let me know when I can lend support. Cheers - Ginger Johnson,