Pink Pint Night: A major marketing misstep?

BRATTLEBORO — These days, when a business wants to let people know that it's “women friendly,” it often starts with the use of pink: pink products, pink themes, pink everything.

Long associated with ribbons, yogurt containers, M&M's, or clothing lines that support “cures” for cancer, the pinking of consumer products has become an everyday event.

Now it's happening with an event in Brattleboro in May, except this time the product being “pinked” is alcohol.

The event is called Pink Pint Night, and it is being touted as a fundraiser for the Brattleboro Museum & Arts Center (although it is unclear how much of the $25 per person or vending fees will actually be donated).

The issue here is not a fundraiser serving alcohol. What is disturbing is that the event targets a specific demographic (women 21-55, according to the Pink Pint website) and is using the “pink” language and inviting wellness groups to participate in an effort to “expose women to the world of beer and better prepare them to shop for beer.”

Vendors will include jewelry and clothing and other things that women like, but it is all really to attract them to the main product of the evening: alcohol. Instead of dressing it up in “pink,” let it just be what it is.

As one New York Times article said, some “complain that pink marketing, despite the many millions it raises for charities, is just another way to move merchandise and that it exploits cancer by turning it into an excuse to go shopping. And some pink-theme products have no relationship with any [cancer-related] charities at all,” such as the event in Brattleboro.

I have several dear friends living with terminal cancer. This “pink” event is not doing a thing to prevent or alleviate what has happened to them.

I had one person from the museum tell me that the pink was just a symbol for girl versus boy like when a baby is born. But we are not babies, we are women, and pink for women does not conjure up baby blankets, it conjures up cancer prevention. In fact, the first photo you see on the Pink Pint Flickr account is a woman wearing a pink ribbon.

I wonder: When the Blue Pint Night targeting men will happen? In fact, what other demographic will be targeted so meticulously in this manner? Shall we next go after African-Americans or gays to teach them how to shop for beer? Or would it be obvious how insulting this would be?

I believe that the alcohol industry, the real sponsor of this event, is very aware of the “pinking” of this demographic. Given the relationship between alcohol use and cancer, it is just unbelievable that the industry is trying to gain merchandising advantage off women this way.

It's a beer tasting, ladies. Why not just call it that?

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