Saving Your Brand (And Your A**)

Real (recent) email conversation – Contact:

“Hi Ginger,

I have attended several of your seminars at CBC in past years, as well as your Marketing Beer to Women workshop last year in Denver.  I remember you commenting on the topic of lewd or crude beer names and imagery and marketing that use sophomoric or inappropriate humor.  I think the basic point was to stay away from this kind of marketing so as to not alienate potential customers.  It makes total sense to me.  
I am the only woman working in our small company (10 employees) that is co-owned by my husband. Generally my colleagues are reasonable, and while our branding leans toward an edgier, younger crowd, it hasn’t crossed the line into inappropriateness, until now.  My colleagues (including my husband and his partner, inexplicably) have come up with a name for a new beer that I find completely inappropriate and vulgar.  I have voiced my opinion about this, and have been outvoted thus far.  
I was wondering if you could point me towards any articles or other resources that would help me validate my points to the other 9 people in my company who insist on acting more like boys than men?  I think if I could come at them with some clear talking points, and link to some actual sources, that would help my case a great deal.  I am supposed to be creating signage for this beer to go on tap this weekend, so this is my last chance to stop this ship from sailing.  Thanks in advance for any help you can provide to steer me in the right direction.
And thanks for all that you do!  Cheers!”
WEB Reply:
“Good to hear from you! Hope life is good and you’re well.

Thanks for the email. How’s business?

Hmmmm…well, there are two things that enter my mind.
1. It’s always unfortunate that a “majority rule” gets instituted even when the majority opinion is off. Think slavery. Ideas are powerful and interesting things. I find it unfortunate, if it’s as you say, that females may end up being blatantly disrespected. Your brand  – like any – can ill afford to put forth an offensive label or name. I’d obviously have to see the materials to factor that in.
2. If you’re asking me for professional advice to assist the brand damage avoidance that may occur, that’s my product and hence a fee is involved. Like any label review or brand question, I can absolutely assist and contribute to your continued and increased success, as well as citing research of thousands of females across the country who in fact are the majority buyers in America. If a brand wants to piss off women and alienate them, they choose ill conceived names, labels and titles.
3. Lastly – on a sheer gut level: what females do the people (women & men) have in their lives they care about? Do they want them intentionally insulted and denigrated? If they say no to this question, how can they say yes to dubious labels? It’s completely hypocritical and tragic. The Great Brands have never resorted to these tactics because quality is genderless, gives full respect to all, and class, tact & diplomacy reign supreme.
This is obviously off the cuff, since I’ve no idea what the materials actually are and we aren’t in a work situation. While I’d love to help you more, please appreciate my vantage point.

Be in touch when you’d like to engage. I stand at the ready and will be curious to see what I hear from you.

Cheers & be well – “

Contact Response:
“Thank you Ginger!  I ended up writing a very well-researched email (at least I thought so!) to the team. I linked to a few of the articles that are on your website, and laid out some of the main points.  The points that I thought applied best to our situation were:

  1. It goes against our whole philosophy.  Our tagline is [socially inviting] and we’ve always described our brand and our establishment as a place where everyone is welcome.  An offensive beer name is alienating to multiple segments of our customer population.
  2. It’s unnecessary, and if our beer isn’t quality enough to stand on its own without a gimmicky shock value name, we’ve got bigger problems.
I told them, and I think they understand now, that I can take a joke and am not being uptight for the sake of being uptight.  This name goes too far, period.  I did also allude to your #3, by asking if they cared about their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters, and asking if they would feel comfortable having any of those women that are close to them order a beer by this name.  I think this was the one that really hit home.
I got emails back from almost everybody saying they hadn’t considered these points, were just reverting to this boyhood vulgarity because they thought it was funny, and hadn’t considered the wider implications.  Most also thanked me for opening their eyes and providing links to your site, and said they would be looking at issues such as this in a different light in the future.  So woohoo, small victory here I think!
Thank you again for responding. I really do think that your services would be useful to us, and I think some of the guys are starting to think so too.  So now on to my next quest – to convince them that we should actually engage your services!  It might be a bit down the road, but I will absolutely let you know as soon as we can swing it.  I have so much respect for all that you do – keep on doing it!
Thanks and Cheers,”
WEB Reply:
“Hello –
Thanks for the update.

I’d like to talk with you – what is your direct number please.”

This request to talk has gone unanswered, which is disconcerting. In light of what transpired, I’d be hard pressed to offer this advice again. The contact isn’t placing a real monetary value on the conversation – even though the advice they were asking for and which helped avoid a hugely expensive and stupid mistake.
Suffice it to say, I shouldn’t have helped. Yes, I’m compelled to do so. Though with the lack of return communication, clear no-value understanding, this person has blown it for others. If your brand – which is sometimes you whole life  – is worth the investment, then assume paying for professional advice is part of that investment.
I just saved their brand from serious damage. And they won’t even call me upon request. I don’t ask for free from others – don’t you ask for free either. Expect to pay professional specialist what they are worth.

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