Being a strawberry blond with a lapsed red beard as well as young Santa Claus tendencies, by nature I am not inclined to find this ad from a New Zealand ginger beer manufacturer's marketing campaign. Here is a bit of the initial press release:
...children are a blessing, but it’s fair to say no parent sets out wanting a ginger child. So ginger beer maker Hakanoa has given those parents unfortunate enough to be cursed with ginger children the opportunity to swap them for something they will want, a six pack of delicious Hakanoa Handmade Ginger Beer. From Tuesday 31st of July until Friday 31st August parents with ginger spawn will be able to bring them into The Little Grocer on Richmond Road, Grey Lynn, where they will be able to swap them for a six pack of ginger beer.
Now, the firm has recanted after being condemned or at least sanctioned by that nation's Advertising Standards Authority which held that the ad went beyond the acceptable use of stereotypes and satire, and encouraged the discrimination and ridicule of red-headed people. The maker said on 31 July that the idea was "light-hearted and not offensive" but by 4 August admitted she has courted controversy and had to live with the consequences.
Do you care? Are red headed children no different than people whose perceived characteristics are massed into identifiable groups who have been labeled by others in society over the years? Is this any different from beer makers who objectify women or is this a case of marketing just reflecting back bits of our culture that, like the barmaid as sex object, we are more than a little uncomfortable with? And is it, on the other hand, any different from the portrayal of the dopey average guys having a great time at the game or watching sports TV together on the sofa because they have the right brand of beer in their hands and filling the fridge?
Why do we particularly need to associate secondary properties with beverages compared to other consumer products? It is not enough that it is tasty and even tastier than the next guy's drink? And is there not an inverse calculation such that the tastier it is, the less offensive the ads need be? Is the formula actually that the truly tasty need not go to the edge of advertising? Accordingly and conversely, the more there is needy branding with the beer - more rock star the brewer, more legendary the guy in charge, more guru-based the branding, the more even it is "green" or reassuringly premium priced - the more the branding of the beer suggests these things...is it not the case that you the consumer have more reason to be as seriously skeptical as if the marketing was telling one one drink would make you more attractive or that it would make all your parenting troubles go away?