It’s International Women’s Day! And naturally brands want to show their support… or cash in on the opportunity, depending on which way you look at! One such brand who caused controversy this week was the Inventors of Craft Beer™, BrewDog, who took aim at the gender pay gap by making their flagship beer, Punk IPA… pink.

International Women’s Day: When Brands Get Advertising for Women Wrong

Now far be it for a men’s lifestyle magazine like ourselves to know what women want, we do know that pink-labelled craft dubbed ‘Beer for Girls’ is not the one, satirical or otherwise. So with that in mind, for International Women’s Day we thought we’d celebrate by looking at other brands who got advertising for women badly wrong…

BiC Pen For Her

A pen. But not just any pen. No, a beautifully smooth ball pen designed specifically for women. “Aren’t all pens for women?”, we hear you ask. Well, no. You see, the BiC Pen For Her is ‘designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand’ and features a pink barrel – because women love pink – and has a floral design that continues onto the metal cone. Flowers? Women? Get it? BiC do have some history in this area too. In 2015, a meme on their South African Twitter for #WomensDay account read; ‘Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss.’ Yep.


Doritos ‘Low Crunch’ Crisps

Earlier this year, it was reported that Doritos were taking the crunch out of their crisps with a new ‘low crunch’ version of the triangular corn snacks. The reason for such a drastic measure? Bloody women, of course! According Indra Nooyi, global chief executive at PepsiCo who owns Doritos; “Although women would love to crunch crisps loudly, lick their fingers and pour crumbs from the bag into their mouth afterwards, they prefer not to do this in public.” The concept was widely criticised, forcing a spokeswoman to announce that the reports were ‘inaccurate’ but did concede that Doritos will ‘continue to evolve’ and are ‘always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers.”


Dove Racism Row

Last year, Dove caused controversy not for sexist marketing, but for perceived racist after an advert on Facebook showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman underneath, supposedly after using Dove body lotion. The ad was immediately removed with Dove pointing out that the white woman then removes her top and turns into a Middle Eastern woman. Still, no the best look is it? It also wasn’t the first time that Dove had been accused of racism. In 2011, Dove’s before-and-after advert charted the transition of a black woman to a white woman after using its body wash.


Protein World Tube Poster

One thing you should never do as a brand is piss off London commuters. And that’s exactly was supplement supplier Protein World did a couple of years ago with their ad asking already angry commuters: ‘Are you beach body ready?’ Given the accompanying image showed a blonde supermodel in a yellow bikini, most felt they weren’t. Not only that, they didn’t like being told what body you need to hit the beach. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 378 complaints about the ad but it did escape a ban. That said, it is thought that the advert had a big impact in debates at ASA surrounding the ethics of advertising.


Sellotape Just for Girls

Now every time my girlfriend uses regular tape to patch up her pink bride-to-be scrapbook, it just bursts into flames. Immediately. That was until I bought her tape from Sellotape, especially made ‘Just for Girls’. Now the only thing she burns is the dinner.


Flirt Energy Drink

Some brands are just doomed from the off. Flirt, for example, was a US energy drink specifically developed to provide women with a ‘healthier alternative to standard energy drinks’. Because women need energy but shouldn’t be putting on weight while doing it, obviously. The cheeky feminine liquid features zero calories, zero carbs and no sugar or preservatives. As the makers suggest, “Flirt goes beyond being an effective and needed energy drink for females; it embodies the concept of empowering women.” Hmm…


For more branding woes, check out what we think are the best supermarket rip-offs!



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