Thursday 21 November 2013

Beer advert withdrawn after protests

I'm confused. This is a Lidl advert advertising a German beer called Perlenbacher, and it has been withdrawn because it has caused offence. If I were to guess why it caused offence, I might go for one of these:
  • It suggests that women are a piece of property to be bagged up with the shopping. Or
  • It depicts a young woman who looks as though she has a serious eating disorder, thus setting a bad example.
It's neither of these. A charity called Trans Media Watch says its supporters have made complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority about it because it could put transgender women in danger. Trans Media Watch stated:

"We found the ad to be deeply problematic because the slogan 'unexpected item' implied deceit on the part of the person it depicted. The myth that trans women and cross dressers present as they do in an attempt to seduce straight men is sadly still widespread and is commonly used to try and justify aggression against them. Promoting this myth puts trans people in real danger."

In general, most of us can understand the reasons why people say they are offended, even if we don't agree. For example, everyone understands why some women don't like the name of the Slater's beer, Top Totty, including those who think it's just a bit of fun and the protesters are humourless. You don't have to agree with something to understand it.

Because I don't look at that picture and think, "That's a transgender woman", I simply don't understand how Trans Media Watch did. To me, she is a young woman who looks very underweight. And I'm wondering whether I'm the only one who has never heard of the widespread myth that trans people aim to seduce straight men.

My view of the advert is that it's crass with a feeble attempt at a joke that doesn't work: for that reason I have no problem with Lidl withdrawing it, but I still don't understand the protests. What am I missing?


  1. I only understood the complaint when you explained the "joke" was regarding finding unexpected genitalia on a partner you had not understood to be transgendered prior to intimacy.

    I initially thought the “joke” was regarding mail order brides travelling as baggage. Objectifying and dehumanising a human being.

    Either way it is offensive, although the joke makes more sense with your explanation.

    It seems to me they made an offensive joke. In a free society people are free to offend others. If you want to sell product, it’s not the best way of going about it.

    If the statement can be logically shown to increases hateful or violent behaviour then the issue is more than causing offence, it is a contributory factor in the crimes committed.

    If you follow twitter you will find no shortage of idiots creating a storm of perceived offence on behalf of others regarding sexism and other slights. There is nothing like the self-righteous with a cause. A marketer that knows beer is basically a blokes drink and blokes laugh at mildly sexist jokes but that will always be “bad for beer” whether the tasteless joke is good or bad for their own sales.

    The point at which I would turn from a wearily raised eyebrow and a “whatever” into actually complaining is the veracity of the claim that such a joke does increase the likelihood of homophobic attack rather than just be a tiresome joke about lady boys for secretly homosexual rugger types making jokes about getting bummed because actually that’s what they want but are unable to admit it. I can’t say I know.

  2. It's not a very good advert anyway if it has to be explained before people get it, although it might be more obvious in a larger format.

  3. I did blow up the advert before posting this, but it didn't reveal anything that you can't see already. I don't know what point or joke the advertisers were trying to make, and I don't know why some trans people perceived it as being aimed at them. Oh well!


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