(Image: John & Cait…Plus Nine)
This Saturday, the Brewers will host Brewed for Her, a promotional event designed to appeal to casual female fans. In past years, a similar promotion called Brewers All-Access for Women gave attendees a backstage tour of Miller Park, including the press box, Uecker's booth, and the home clubhouse. There was also the promise of breakout sessions with various female Brewers staff members.
The upcoming Brewer for Her is a little different – instead of focusing on behind-the-scenes attractions, fans can watch the Brewers/Pirates game from the Gehl Club, and receive a gift bag with various trinkets and apparel purportedly worth $250. Notably, attendees will have access to “fashion experts,” not to mention “those who purchase the new Brewers hair and nail accessories will also have the opportunity to have the beauticians style their hair and nails with them on the spot.”
I don’t recall this promotion being advertised during Brewers television broadcasts, so I wasn’t aware of it until last week, when I read this post at Brew Crew Ball by Nicole Haase. While it seems to me Brewed for Her might not appeal to all fans, Ms. Haase’s assessment of the event was much less generous:
Hair. Makeup. Nails.
Offensive. Degrading. Stereotypical. Tone Deaf. Sexist. (And don't even get me started about the calling all of us "girls")
Ms. Haase also observed that “this Brewed event is sexist and demeaning and undermining the feminist movement in about 1200 ways.” If I could be understated for a moment, clearly there are some female Brewers fans who do not appreciate the marketing approach in this case.
Ms. Haase makes several good points in her post (at over 3,300 words, there would have to be a few). One is that Brewed for Her does not appear it will be as successful as Brewers All-Access for Women, which sold out last year. Indeed, this post by Brewers Senior Marketing Manager Caitlin Moyer offering two-for-one ticket pricing “for a limited time” ten days before the event suggests Brewed for Her isn’t meeting internal expectations. Ms. Haase is also on strong ground with her criticisms of the Diamond Dancers and FS-Wisconsin girls, which I tend to agree are pretty frivolous as far as attention-getting mechanisms go.
That said, I find most of Ms. Haase’s arguments unconvincing and occasionally unserious. Regarding her offense at being called “girl,” that only seems to be in the context of promotional copy that says “The perfect gift for Mother’s Day or a girls’ day out.” That’s just a variation of the expression Girls Night Out, which is such a commonly used phrase it has its own Wikipedia page. Putting it mildly, it’s not very sporting to accuse the Brewers of using the word “girls” in a condescending manner.
Ms. Haase’s repeated invocations of sexism are also unpersuasive. Two people that have been actively promoting this event have been the aforementioned Ms. Moyer and Jill Aronoff, Senior Director of Merchandise Branding for the Brewers. If Brewed for Her was manifestly sexist, it’s unlikely female marketing professionals would have anything to do with it. It’s not at all obvious that many or most women are offended (or ought to be) by Brewed by Her, or have any reason to feel degraded.
Ms. Haase said, “Menfolk, you guys have to care, too. You need to be upset that the sister, mom, wife or girlfriend that goes to the game with you is being treated this way.” I don’t usually think it’s my role to be upset on behalf of adult women, but perhaps my tolerance for injustice is too high. To gain some insight, I asked my sister – who is an avid Brewers fan, and happens to be a sports producer/editor for a Milwaukee television station – for her opinion.
Like myself, my sister was unaware of the Brewed for Her (which does not speak well of the marketing efforts) and also was not familiar with Brewers All-Access for Women. I read her the details described in Ms. Moyer’s post verbatim over the phone. When I got to the point about styling hair and nails on the spot, my sister interrupted, “I would totally do that.” She also thought the gift bag sounded appealing. She did not report feeling demeaned.
Once I prompted her by asking if she thought any of it was sexist, she said she didn’t think it was fair there wasn’t a similar event for men. She also said the pink-and-purple flyer used to promote the event was a little silly. Her overall verdict: “$250 worth of free sh*t sounds like a good deal.”
To the extent that Brewed for Her is sexist, it could only be the most harmless form of prejudice imaginable. Ineffective marketing? Apparently. Outrage-worthy? Hardly.