And the winner of last week’s Social Marketing Moronathon is the marketing geniuses at Carlton United Breweries (CUB) who came up with a Carlton Draught promotion called ‘Laundry Nights’.
The promotion — and this is where the genius bit comes in — offers patrons of participating pubs a free ironing service in exchange for purchasing beer.
Get it? Get it? Chicks do the ironing while blokes sit down and knock back a coldie or four.
The email from the hotel invited patrons to ‘Give the wife, girlfriend or partner a rest tomorrow night, because the Carlton Draught girls will be in to do your laundry (well your ironing anyway)’.
A photo on Paddington’s Imperial Hotel’s Facebook page shows promo ‘girls’ wearing Carlton Draught branded clothes while ironing a shirt. The email from the hotel invited patrons to ‘Give the wife, girlfriend or partner a rest tomorrow night, because the Carlton Draught girls will be in to do your laundry (well your ironing anyway)’.
Is there anything more hilarious than one of the most demeaning symbols of gender inequality and servitude — ironing?
And dehumanising constructions like ‘the wife’, ‘the girlfriend’ or ‘the partner‘ — as if the wife/girlfriend/partner in question is an object not unlike ‘the fridge‘ or ‘the stove‘ — are just LOL funny.
Unfortunately for CUB, the stunt went down on social media like a scorching hot iron on polyester.
CUB’s attempts to scamper out of the misogynist swamp it had created for itself was as quick as it was desperate.
When it became clear it had overstepped the bounds of basic human decency, its first defense was, predictably, to play the joke card. CUB claimed that the promo was all in the name of fun. The unspoken implication, of course, is that anyone who didn’t like the promotion is a humorless killjoy who needs another beer to lighten up.
Their next step was to say that the promotion was not actually sexist. A statement on the Carlton Draught website claimed: ‘This promotion is open to men and women over the age of 18. In terms of who will be doing the ironing, there will be different combinations of male and female promotional staff. This will vary by venue.’
Oh puh-leeze. How utterly unbelievable is this? Let us count the ways.
Claiming this promotion is gender neutral has about as much credibility as pretending that Carlton Draught is a boutique beer.
After all, the main picture for the ad features a hand pouring beer into an iron — a woman’s hand. And even though the Imperial Hotel sent the email about ‘the wife, girlfriend or partner’ it was working off a promotional template supplied by CUB. Anyone who is oblivious to the gendered implication of ironing would have to, well, work at a beer company.
There are two possible explanations for this sexist garbage, and each is as damning and indefensible as the other. Either CUB knew what it was doing, or it didn’t.
Let’s consider the first possibility, that CUB is so vile and cynical that it deliberately set out to cause offence by degrading women under the guise of irony. If so, it’s playing a dangerous game. Surely, one of the great lessons from 2012 is that women and enlightened men are no longer willing to swallow the dregs of Australia’s sexist culture.
Did CUB miss the Prime Minister’s ‘misogyny speech’ that stopped the nation and rippled throughout the world.
Or does CUB’s media monitoring service just weed out stuff said by chicks?
But surely CUB would have noticed when Alan Jones lost most of his sponsors and The Macquarie Radio Network lost $1.5 million as a result of a social media campaign led by the community group Destroy the Joint who had had a gutful of Jones’ hatefulness.
The power of anti-misogynist social media campaigns was yet again on display a couple of days ago when the red-faced, greeting card company Hallmark UK was forced to recall a sexist card in the wake of a twitter backlash. The picture of the offending card which said, ‘You're 13 today! If you had a rich boyfriend, he'd give you diamonds and rubies. Well, maybe next year you will – when you've bigger boobies!’ went viral and Hallmark apologised.
The other explanation for CUB dreaming up a promotion that makes even Don Draper look progressive is that it’s clueless. It makes you wonder if CUB is in fact a footy pie night masquerading as a corporate citizen, and that it is intoxicated by its blokey, sexist culture.
If this is the case, then perhaps CUB ought to sit down and read the Annual Report of its parent company Foster’s Group Ltd, which, in part, states:
‘Foster’s values and respects the diversity of our employees and is committed to creating an inspiring and inclusive workplace where everyone is treated equally and fairly.’
I assume this means that the two women on Foster’s board are not expected to iron the other directors’ shirts at after-work drinks. But it might be a good idea to extend the same level of respect to its customers and the community.
Kasey Edwards is the best-selling author of 4 books: 30-Something and Over It, 30-Something and The Clock is Ticking, OMG! That's Not My Husband, and OMG! That's Not My Child. www.kaseyedwards.com