Garfield Dubs Heineken Keg Ad Sexist, College Kids Don't Care


Writing on Advertising Age today, Bob Garfield, returning from vacation on the Adriatic coast "where hordes of young Eastern European women sashayed to and fro in overflowing bikinis and high heels" reducing him to "a slack jawed cliché of arrested adolescence," wonders if the Heineken DraughtKeg ad is the most sexist beer ad ever created.

After wading through Garfield's extensive hyperbole and detailed analysis of this commercial, he concludes, writing, "Berlin Cameron United has essentially animated the "perfect woman" joke. Whether intentionally or out of pure animal instinct uncivilized by the most basic notion of respect, they have reduced half the world to a man-servicing beer tap."

Fair enough but we wonder if women sometimes inadvertently play right into this girl-as-boy-toy perception as this girl seemingly does here becoming a keg stand play-thing for a couple of guys who, yes, did run out and buy the new Heineken Draught Keg. Innocuous college antics? Or precursor to sexism?

by Steve Hall    Aug-27-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Commercials, Opinion, Trends and Culture   

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There really is nothing in this ad to imply that she might also be a woman-servicing beer tap. Had this been a male robot in the ad you easily would have just passed it off without even a second glance.

But because its a woman we all of a sudden have to assume that it was created in a spiteful machismo fashion.

The popular dialog in todays advertising media has to move on from the assumption that every attractive woman appearing in a spot is an affront to women everywhere.

Posted by: Andrew on August 28, 2007 8:21 PM

Andrew, I think it's obvious that the problem isn't that there's an assumption that "...every attractive woman appearing in a spot is an affront to women everywhere...."

Nor do I assume this Heineken ad was "spitefully" created. Maybe if there had been a male robot in the ad, there wouldn't have been an objection, as you suggest. But here's the thing: there wouldn't be a Heineken commercial with a male robot. Why would there be? They clearly perceive their audience to be male, so I can't imagine the justification they'd use for displaying a serving-man. (Certainly men are pitted against each other in ads, but typically only in a "whose is bigger" context - you know, SUVs, backyard pools, power chain-saws, etc.)

The woman in the ad is a play on the creation of a perfect girlfriend. She's cool, long-legged, not talky, obviously non-judgmental about producing beer on demand. She doesn't need anything. She dispenses, perfectly and with a sly good-natured attitude.

My problem with the ad is that once again, I'm rendered invisible as a consumer. It so blatantly ignores the fact that women frequently exchange money for goods and/or services: we often buy the beer, along with everything else on our shopping list, and many of us enjoy the idea of taking a break on a hot afternoon with an icy cold, delicious beer. I suppose you could do a commercial with a hunky robotic beer-boy, but why would they (Heineken)? (And I wouldn't like it, I suspect. I'd love for a cold beer to magically arrive in my hot little hands, but I guess I'd rather not imagine slaves - robotic or lobotomized - getting it there. Perhaps bluebirds, elves, or my own benevolent Carrie White telekinetic superpower.)

But Heineken: I mean to say, don't they want my money, too? Girl-money has the same value as boy-money.

PS to Steve Hall:

"...Fair enough but we wonder if women sometimes inadvertently play right into this girl-as-boy-toy perception as this girl seemingly does here becoming a keg stand play-thing...."

This seems irrelevant to me. They want my money. I have seen this commercial and am disinclined to give it to them. That some young women wholly unrelated to me or my interests think it's fun, or are asking to be play-things...well, in the context of deciding how to allocate my beer money, it's irrelevant.

Posted by: Magatha on August 29, 2007 7:33 PM

Sexist? No. Sexy? Yes. There is a distinction. I think some people need to recognize there are much more serious things in this world to worry about than the perception of the female robot in a Heineken commercial. In the end, the commercial doesn't amount to anything but what it is and that is getting people to part with their money.

Posted by: James on September 6, 2007 12:19 PM

Are there more serious things in this world to worry about than the "perception" of a female robot in a Heineken commercial? I would imagine that depends on your point of view.

If you pay attention to advertising trends, as Bob Garfield does - I mean, heck, that's apparently how he makes his living - then in the moment he wrote his rant, nothing was more serious.

To many of us, this ad is serious business. It perpetuates and reinforces to men, and in particular young men, the idea that women should be programmed to meet their needs. This ad, if not spitefully created, was most certainly created with purpose, to appeal to men. And what appeals most to young men? According to this campaign, it's empty headed women serving them beer. That's the message. Failing to speak out against it is to say this message is just fine, no problem, it meets our cultural standards.

Seems odd, in a culture where 90 percent of the people say they're Christian, but that's another post.

Heineken would not create an ad with a male robot dispensing beer, because that's not the joke. And the joke is old, and the joke is tired, and the joke is hurtful to a great many women, for a wide variety of reasons. If it appeals to you, if you think there's nothing wrong with it, then say nothing - the ad will continue. But don't lash out at those of us who are moved to action.

Posted by: LiberalSpirit on September 9, 2007 5:34 PM