Beer advertising has failed women - that's bad news for our industry

This summer's football tournament showed how much progress we've made and how far we still have to go to achieve equality between men and women.

When I think about what I’d like to change, the first thing that comes to mind stems from a recent momentous occasion in women’s sport, which we as Budweiser Brewing Group were so proud to be a part of: the Women’s World Cup. 

The tournament marked a historic point, in terms of record breaking attendance, support and viewership. While it sparked many needed conversations around how far we have come, it also raised the question of how much more we can do in the quest for an equal playing field for men and women, in sport as well as wider disciplines. 

This issue is close to my heart. I trained professionally as a tennis player from the age of four in my home town of Moscow, Russia and while I had great support from coaches and family and was encouraged to be the best I could be, I saw first-hand that female professional tennis players often had a different set of challenges to the male players. 

Fast-forward to today in my professional marketing career, I’ve also benefited from a supportive environment where my work and ideas are the focus, rather than my gender. This is something I wish we could change for all women out there, whether in sports or in other industries that are historically skewed towards male, such as the one I currently work in: beer.

Yet to change it, we need to understand why the unequal playing field and the "Gender pint gap" – as coined by Dea Latis, a brilliant group of female beer professionals and enthusiasts – exists. Much of it comes down to historic advertising and positioning of the beer industry, something that is in our power as marketers to change.  

There are some pretty staggering statistics: for instance, according to research from Dea Latis, as much as 48% of women reject beer simply because of the perception created by beer advertising. More widely, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media last year released a report stating that women consistently accounted for only one-third of all characters in commercials and men spoke seven times more than women. 

These are statistics that leading companies, such as ourselves, have a responsibility to change. This change starts from the inside – ensuring we have an equal playing field for talented people to thrive at every level. In the UK, half of our senior management team and graduate intake are women and our gender pay gap is negative, meaning women in our UK business on average make a little bit more than men. 

But beyond ensuring our own houses are in order when it comes to diversity and inclusion, creating a truly equal playing field also means fostering an environment with our agencies where we provoke each other on the advertising we are creating, products we are making and brands we are building. 

We have a responsibility to ensure beer is inclusive – it has long been a social equalizer and important part of culture and it can do much more here. Our job then is to continue debunking myths and stigmas surrounding beer, promoting women in the industry, and most importantly, showing how we have learned lessons from the past, and paving the way for a better future. 

If we get that right, the one thing I would want to change will happen: we will create a level playing field for men and women alike – where both genders can play football, drink beer, and one’s gender will not be a discussion point at all.

Tatiana Stadukhina is marketing director at Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I and a member of Campaign’s Power 100

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