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Sexuality in Alcohol Advertising

Sexuality in Alcohol Advertising

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Published by sarahhann
I wrote this paper for JOUR-J438 about the history of the use of sexuality in alcohol advertising.
I wrote this paper for JOUR-J438 about the history of the use of sexuality in alcohol advertising.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: sarahhann on Mar 22, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sarah HannFebruary 23, 2010
Alcohol advertising has contained sexual imagery for generations. This has primarilybeen in the form of sexy women converging on men who have just opened a specific alcoholicbeverage and suddenly become cool. The sometimes explicit advertising has been prevalentthroughout the industry. Advertisers use sexuality and nudity in alcohol ads because it generatesbrand awareness and gives men a sexual attraction to the advertisements, and thus the brands.However, the effect of the blatant and pervasive sexuality is a negative stereotype about gender roles.Alcohol ads are primarily directed toward men, especially beer commercials. This isbecause men are the major beer consumers (Reichert, 2003). Janet Rowe, a Coors executive, saidthat the primary beer market is men aged 21 to 34, and that the 21- to 24-year-olds are a veryimportant part of the market segment (Reichert, 2003). According to Rowe, ³If you¶re trying tointerest men in that age bracket, obviously one of the ways is with women. I don¶t think womenin beer advertising will ever go away´ (Reichert, 2003).Alcohol advertising containing enticing images has been around for over 100 years. In1889, Bock¶s beer advertised its product with an image of a woman sitting on a man¶s lap ± or rather, between his legs ± as they share a glass of beer (Reichert, 2003). ³This Bock ad illustratesa theme carried through to contemporary alcohol advertising: that alcohol contributes to funtimes, and if you want to be in a position like the one shown in the ad, pick up a few bottles of Bock´ (Reichert, 2003). Sexual situations were shown in other advertisements, some even non-alcoholic, including women with mostly-bare nipples. In fact, such ads ³continued the traditionof using images of women¶s breasts in early forms of promotional material´ (Reichert, 2003).
This tradition continued over the next century. Bock¶s ad was not nearly the mostprovocative of the advertisements, which often did more than give subtle hints of sexuality andbarely-hidden nakedness. Robert Portner Brewing Company published several increasinglysexual images (Reichert, 2003). The most revealing was a poster of a mostly-nude young woman(Reichert, 2003). A cloth covers her lower half, but her breasts are visible, and though her armcovers one nipple, the other is in plain view (Reichert, 2003). However, even then the poster contained mostly sex appeal rather than dwelling on the benefits of the product. In fact, the girl isnot holding any alcohol; the only reference to the product was the brand¶s name across the top of the ad (Reichert, 2003). The poster was likely displayed in establishments where Portner¶s beer was served (Reichert, 2003).Alcohol advertisements continued to contain images of sexy women in the 1950s andbeyond. The Rheingold company had ³Miss Rheingolds´ who were splashed across print ads for the product, though the ads also contained text that focused on the drink (Reichert, 2003). One adin 1957 featured six Miss Rheingold contestants, and told people to ³pick their favorite and µvotefor her in any Rheingold store or tavern¶´ (Reichert, 2003). Rheingold was not the only companythat featured women in alcohol advertising. Schafer, Pabst, and Ballantine Ale also featuredpretty women in their advertisements, even though, like Rheingold and unlike the earlier Portner¶s, the ads also featured text describing the products (Reichert, 2003). Budweiser usedsimilar tactics, paired with their slogan, ³Where there¶s life . . . there¶s Bud´ (Reichert, 2003).As time went on, the girls in the advertisement wore less and less clothing, and wereoften portrayed in bikinis (Reichert, 2003). ³Images were sexualized with shots of their breasts,legs, and behinds´ (Reichert, 2003). The taglines accompanying the ads were also sexuallycharged. In 1989, Busch ran a campaign featuring men and women on a beach with the words
³Looking for a Busch´ (Reichert, 2003). The advertisements were aimed at attracting men to thealcohol by implying that sexy women liked the brand, and thus liked men who drank the brand(Reichert, 2003). ³These ads served to titillate while reinforcing the association between thebrand and the sexual outcomes´ (Reichert, 2003).Men were not the only ones scantily clad women were attracted to in alcohol ads. In onecampaign by Bud Light, they were shown fawning over Spuds MacKenzie, Bud Light¶s spokes-dog (Reichert, 2003). ³Anheuser-Busch¶s ad agency . . . surrounded Spuds with the Spudettes, averitable harem of young women who titillated Bud Light¶s target market´ (Reichert, 2003).Spuds was not an extremely attractive dog; in fact, his looks were rather questionable. However,the women giving him attention were sexy and wearing spandex (Reichert, 2003). ³Arthur Kover, professor emeritus at Fordham University, said, µYou¶ve got this animal that¶s sort of ugly and sort of cute. Yet he¶s surrounded by these sexy women. It¶s like every prepubescentmale¶s dream¶´ (Reichert, 2003).Sexuality in alcohol advertising has been prominent for a long time, but it has not alwaysbeen accepted. Following a failed, sexually-charged ad campaign by the Stroh BreweryCompany in 1991, alcohol companies were publicly taken to task by the surgeon general, whoasked them to stop running ³ads that focus on bikini-clad women´ (Reichert, 2003). Theprominent advertising magazine
Advertising Age
took a similar stance. ³For years, many beer companies have used blatant sexist advertising to titillate male beer drinkers. And leadingbrewers say they see no reason to change. They are wrong´ (Reichert, 2003). The alcoholcompanies listened, and for the rest of the decade, much of the sexuality in the advertisementswas quelled, often replaced by humor (Reichert, 2003). Despite the views of William Pappano,the general manager of Banko Beverage, who said that sex ³does sell beer. People don¶t

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