Me Johnnie. You Jane.

I don’t mind a bit of a brand drag party when it’s done in the spirit of fun, even if there is a serious message underlying the carry-on. But with some gender-themed promotions I’ve seen, I do wonder  what the real motivations are. With International Women’s Day coming up, my cynicism radar starts bleeping overtime.

Take the limited (to the U.S. market) ‘Jane Walker‘ Black Label edition. This has been conceived to ‘draw more women to the brand’ and ‘acknowledge a broader push towards gender equality.’ OK, on the second part of that, there are donations to organisations supporting women’s progress such as Monumental Women. (Whether building statues supports women’s progress today is another matter.) But I question whether this is really going to attract women to the brand. Looking at Jane, with her cane and shiny boots, I think she’s more likely to attract more men of a certain sort.

The VP of Johnnie Walker, Stephanie Jacoby, says that ‘Scotch is seen as particularly intimidating to women’. Now, I don’t ever recall having been seriously intimidated by a bottle of Scotch, but there you go. Ms Jacoby is allowed (maybe) to make sweeping generalisations about women because she is one. And she continues ‘… we like to think of our striding man and our striding woman as really walking together going forward.’

Going forward? Not after a few measures you don’t. You go from side to side.

Well, I suppose if the hidden agenda was publicity, I’ve given them a little more.

I do wonder what awaits us next. Perhaps a gender fluid version, Jo Walker? And what about a few other famous brand icons attempting to attract more women? Can we have a Michelin Woman, maybe? Or a Mrs Peanut?

None of this is new, of course. A Pillsbury Doughgirl was around back in the wonderful gender-bendering 1970s.

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