Kirsty versus “The Baron”

Dewar’s: The Drinking Man’s Whisky?

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with Dewar’s tagline, could they find a way to exclude women more?  I thought not, but then came Sunday night and their “meet the Baron advert” where it became apparent that yes, yes they could, and in the most repellent, misogynistic and utterly offensive way possible. 

Much has been written about the You Tube video (did you see it? If not you really missed a treat) the “wonderful” Baron, the very best “wing-man” a GUY could have, pulls up in a fancy car, saving his friend from some sort of unspecified trouble (but why is he running down a deserted road in the evening?) they then, of course do what any sane “drinking man” would do and head to a bar, a very swish bar at this.  All is well until an overweight woman appears on screen heading to make a move on this friend, well of course the Baron, who, according to Dewar’s “on the battle field, he wouldn’t just take a bullet for you; he’d be the one throwing himself on the explosives” blocks her advances allowing his friend to drink with several size 0, glamorous blondes instead.

Obviously you can feel nothing but sorry for Dewar’s, with all the criticism they are being forced to take.  Halting the advances of an overweight, nowhere near attractive as several “Swedish bikini models” is exactly the same as “taking a bullet” or “throwing himself on the explosives”, all the service men and woman across the world can often be found on the battlefield saying “well it could be worse, some overweight girl could be coming to talk to me”, in fact I think the armed forces are trying to call the Baron to service as we speak.  I would imagine, in the spirit of “camaraderie” the Baron gets the bikini models next time, after all “there’s no I in team, but there is in Swedish bikini models” (no really, they actually paid someone to write this).

Surely woman should just be kept in check and pour their men a Dewar’s of an evening shouldn’t they? Obviously the fact that a third of all whisky drinkers in the UK are women, and a quarter of all whisky drinkers globally are women is completely irrelevant.  Women are playing a greater role in the whisky industry than ever before and more and more women are finding themselves with more disposable income and are turning to whisky, as it shakes off its “stuffy, antiquated, men’s members only clubs” image.  The fact that Dewar’s have, single handily set this back several decades will be of no consequence to anyone at all will it?  However Dewar’s really hadn’t banked on one thing, the eminent women and men, the bloggers, the whisky industries great and the good and Joe public. For some reason Dewar’s have failed to realise that we have all moved on from Victorian times, you would be hard pushed to find any men out there that actually find this acceptable.

From the very moment Johanne McInnis (@whiskylassie), an industry expert, esteemed blogger and friend, raised awareness of this advert on Twitter and better still launched a petition to ban the advert, Twitter exploded, with many men and women quick to condemn the advert, with @alpacajo, @whiskydiscovery, @whiskydiscovkat and @stewartcragion, being just a handful.  A number of articles have been written, my personal favourites are by writer Christine Sismondo, Graham MacKenney and Fred Minnic, who, quite rightly pointed out that the advert, could in fact, be in violation of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States’ “Code of Responsible Practices,” which seeks to halt offensive stereotyping and discrimination in liquor marketing.

In the face of such widespread criticism and condemnation, Dewar’s were of course, contrite, apologetic and quick to act, right? Wrong.  Dewar’s first response was to try to explain that the overweight woman in red was not undesirable but that she was the villain, I am not sure exactly where in the advert that was portrayed, perhaps we need to wait for the prequel to explain that one.  When Dewar’s realised that there was not a single person who found that believable they had the audacity to put a Tweet out, thanking everyone for their feedback, but then shock horror, as if they realised they had committed marketing suicide on a mass level, a minute later Tweeted to say that had removed the You Tube video, too little too late? In my opinion, yes.

dewers @dewars: We heard your responses to “Meet The Baron” and have chosen to remove the video from YouTube.

3:15 PM Dec 10th 

dewers@dewars: We appreciate the comments regarding “The Baron” from all who spoke up: your feedback allows us to continuously evaluate what we do.

3:14 PM Dec 10th 

Whereas sex may still sell, sexism, misogyny and chauvinism do not, and quite rightly have no place in the world.

So what lessons have been learnt from this? Well One; it’s not the 1900’s and men really aren’t as chauvinistic as advertisers would have the world believe, maybe we should give men some credit. Two; the blogger/Twitter movement is becoming more and more powerful and Three; it just takes one person to stand up and try to make a change and in the words of the great, late, Nelson Mandela “It always seems impossible until it is done”.

Kirsty Clarke (@KirstyPryde1)

13.12.13

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