Friday, February 3, 2012

Sex and Beer

The text reads: "Stunningly seductive! A voluptuous variety of hops with a fruity, fresh finish."

Sex has been used to sell beer probably since beer was first brewed by the ancient Sumerians.  But I tend to associate this practice with the big macro-brewers and their relentlessly suggestive ads for light beer (it is either humor or sex).  So it is interesting to see the little kerfuffle about sex and beer from Britain centers around British craft beer.

The issue there is not about using sex to sell beer in general, but whether it is appropriate to display and serve such a beer at a workplace watering hole.  In this case it is in a pub in the British Parliament’s Strangers’ Bar - some female MPs objected to its objectionable pump handle which objectifies women.  Most craft beer in the US plays it pretty PC, but there are exceptions: Upright's Four Play ignited a little bit of controversy last year for example.

My econo/libertarian bent makes me pretty unmoved by it all.  Yes, I think a workplace pub has a right to select products that are unobjectionable to the people that it serves and there is nothing wrong with asking that Top Totty be removed if it offends.  But, in general, I say brewers should do what they want and the market will decide.  I, for one, am turned off by such appeals to my base nature and am much less likely to buy a beer that uses sex to sell.  But not only because I am and enlightened, sensitive, 21st century man: as an economist I take such advertising as a signal that the beer is not good enough to sell without resorting to such base instincts. 

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