The Hullabaloo Around Heineken

by Kate Brodock on 27 August 2007

Posted in: Commercials,Media Analysis

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In response to the new Heineken commercial featured above, some are crying sexism. Some are crying sexism of themost severe form. How could females be depicted any worse?!

Well, I think this is a little overboard… ok, a lot overboard.

I think the commercial is well done: sleek, futuristic, simple, alluring and eye-catching. Paired with a song that brings the robot feel full-circle. I thought it was funky and fun. Not too much, but just enough. Great, perhaps not a hard feat to accomplish. It wasn’t blow-me-out-of-the-water great, but I’d say it was at least good.

So it looks alright. Let’s bring in political correctness. We have a beer that’s being advertised to a primarily male audience. No one can deny that a sexy woman will draw in the eyes of most heterosexual men, if only for a second. What’s the difference between this and having a regular woman in short skirt and a bare stomach? Perhaps you think those are sexist as well.

Is this an overarching problem with the image of women? Mmmm, I’d say not. I won’t lie, I like a commercial with a shirtless man with washboard abs. Is this a problem with the image of men? No, media planners know what’s going to get my attention. They know what’s pleasing to the eye. Some “real” woman walk around all day in a short skirt and bare stomach, with the purpose of attracting the eyes of men (Log this point as both a parallel between life and the commercial, and as a part of the process of segmentation that has probably gone on in the drawing rooms of beer marketers for decades…and perhaps less of a reason to get up-in-arms as a voice for all woman).

Let’s also admit to the fact that a lot of heterosexual males dream for at least one moment of having a woman who’s going to walk out and serve them beer. Even better, what if they had a robot that looked like a sexy woman who comes out and there’s a keg inside? Awesome… probably never going to happen unless they were willing to make some major sacrifices in a lot of different areas of a relationship. And they know that. Men have their own priorities. People have their own priorities.

My personal opinion in dealing with this as a woman is that denial, number one, does not do any good. Realize/admit to all of the above facts. Then take a personal check: if you’re a woman who takes offense to this, either recognize that you’re not the woman depicted in the commercial, nor do men expect you to be (and if they do, well, not for you), or recognize that you are the woman depicted in this commercial and understand that link and what it means to you.

After that, segment the market: This robot is not all women. It’s a depiction of one group of women that will draw the attention of a group of men who’s thoughts aren’t going to go much past the 30 seconds of air time, funky music and beer pouring… Enter Heineken. The men are going to be a lot more likely to go out and buy Heineken because of the cool commercial than they are to expect that their wife is going to bring them a cold beer from the fridge for the next 30 years. If they ask, hit them on the back of the head and make them get up and get it as usual.

If you don’t want that woman to be you, don’t let it be. Because guess what, it’s not you. It’s not all women. It’s not even a woman. It’s the fulfillment of a dream of what Heineken has identified as a portion of their core customers. Kudos to Heineken and a job well done.

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