Though there has been a lot of discussion in the news about who gets to make decisions about and for women these days, a new product is promising to relieve women of at least one "complicated" choice: what they drink. Little Black Dress Vodka's mission statement is to simplify the lives of the women it wishes to serve (or rather, be served to): "Too many people are intimidated by complicated cocktail recipes and ingredients. We wanted to design a brand all about women, accentuating ease and superb taste."
The company's press release announces that the brand is by women, for women (the concept, production, legal, brand management and finance heads are all women, according to the press release), and it's great to see female entrepreneurs going after a major share of the market -- women, after all, make 80 percent of household purchasing decisions. But it's hard to see why a group of women running their own liquor company (women who have arguably already reached some level of success in the liquor market) would imply that the "people" intimidated by complicated recipes are actually just one kind of people: the half of the population with an X chromosome.
Little Black Dress Vodka is only the latest alcohol brands to specifically target women with tired promises of ease, low calories and the cache of showing your "good taste" -- even while implying that women don't have the "taste" to discern between good and bad liquor without help.
Here are some other alcohol campaigns targeting women, evaluated based on their understanding of what women want.
SLIDESHOW: What Women Want, According To Alcohol Companies:
The "Designer Drinks" website describes its GIRL Liquor in a run-on sentence that reads like a series of buzz words cut out from women's magazines and strung together. The result is both self-helpy and confusing: "In your glasses, smooth and gentle alcoholic beverages with sensual aromas, low sugar content, as an apertif or for nightlife, in <a href="http://www.bynecker.com/en/mentions.htm" target="_hplink">distinctly contemporary packaging, for authentic, self-respecting seekers of new emotions</a>." <strong>Grade: D- </strong> I don't buy that a flavored vodka equals self-respect and new emotions.
Bethenny Frankel's Skinnygirl Margaritas are marketed as a "smart, delicious answer to high-calorie restaurant margaritas." While only the margarita sipper can judge the appeal of her drink versus, say, a <a href="http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_T.G.I._Friday's_Ultimate_Margarita" target="_hplink">T.G.I. Friday's Ultimate Margarita</a>, Skinnygirl's other claim -- that it's all-natural -- was called into question when <a href="http://gothamist.com/2011/09/02/whole_foods_pulls_real_housewifes_p.php " target="_hplink">Whole Foods pulled the product from its shelves</a>, charging that it contained a potentially carcinogenic preservative. <strong>Grade: D </strong> Margaritas are full of calories, yes, and cutting down on them can make for a better-for-you choice, but we're wary of a brand that markets alcohol as healthy (or, for that matter, implies that it can make us skinny). I'd rather have the calories than the health risk, thanks.
The last time I heard the term "chicks" was on a farm. There are already a lot of other light beers on the market that don't lay on the pink packaging -- or dated nicknames. <strong>Grade: C-</strong> Though <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/07/chick-beer_n_952249.html" target="_hplink">5 percent of the profits go to charities</a> that benefit women, it also calls them "chicks."
Mazzetti d'Altavilla's Essentia Vitae is <a href=" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/perfume-inspired-wine_n_877401.html" target="_hplink">designed to look like a giant bottle of designer perfume</a>. And if the names of grapes confuse you, they conveniently number their "scents," -- so you can ask for it just like a bottle of Chanel at Bloomingdale's! <strong>Grade: C</strong> Choosing style over substance is never a fair trade -- entice me with flavor, not a pretty bottle or a mouthful of potpourri.
The language in this <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCzGg8JbDu8" target="_hplink">ad for Carlsberg's Copenhagen beer</a> would make you think it's talking about a sensitive male instead of a brewed beverage: "So insisting that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/20/carlsberg-gender-neutral-beer_n_864642.html" target="_hplink">natural beauty needs no make-up</a>, so tastefully stating that blonde is the new black ... so not the usual suspect, so not like any other beer." <strong>Grade: B</strong> I like that you're into me for who I am -- but a little suspect about being picked up by a beer.
Animee is an attempt by Molson Coors -- the company that brought the world<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTbsLgiUuUU" target="_hplink"> this ad</a> -- to target women. Their goal, to "dispel the <a href="http://www.molsoncoors.com/en/News/United Kingdom/Corporate/2011/July/18/Molson Coors UK and Ireland targets women with launch of Animee.aspx" target="_hplink">perception among women that all beers look and taste the same</a> and that there is nothing to tell them apart," doesn't place much faith in women. Thankfully, we can tell their beer apart by its pastel packaging! <strong>Grade: D </strong> It's like the mean boy in high school who ends up chasing you as an adult: You've alternately ignored and picked on us for so long that we can't take this belated, out-of-touch attempt seriously.
Feeling flirty? Feeling radiant? <a href="http://www.bewinery.com/" target="_hplink">There's a wine for that. </a>Instead of involving yourself with tricky things like vintage, soil and varietal, why not choose a wine based on the mood you are in -- we all know women have lots of moods! <strong>Grade: C-</strong> We left mood rings in 7th grade for a reason.
"Just like its namesake, new Little Black Dress Vodka is designed specifically to capture the essence of what women want in a cocktail: <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/introducing-little-black-dress-vodka-designed-by-women-for-women-140863123.html" target="_hplink">fuss-free, burn-free, and flavorful, with an eye toward calorie count</a>." The only thing my LBD has ever burned is the man I walked by without acknowledging. <strong>Grade: D </strong> What about "blueberry pomegranate" says charismatic and chatty, exactly?
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