Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Seeing red about outrageous beer ad

12 comments
Picture / Supplied
Picture / Supplied

Dear me. What a misguided marketing campaign from Hakanoa Ginger Beer.

On Monday, the makers of Hakanoa, a locally brewed boutique ginger beer, put out a press release that read: "They say 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."

Rebekah Hay, founder of Hakanoa, is quoted as saying: "Parents of ginger children have a pretty tough lot in life. From the sympathetic glances, to the smirks, to the feelings of shame, there's a lot for them to bear."

The campaign suggested taking your ginger kid into The Little Grocer, a tiny deli in Grey Lynn, and swapping the kid for a six-pack of Hakanoa.

Predictably, there were howls of outrage and even more predictably, there were calls for people to lighten up, observations that the campaign was just harmless fun and the teeth-grindingly stupid and meaningless whine that any objection was another example of "PC gone mad".

I like ginger beer - crikey, throughout Dry July, I've been guzzling down the stuff. And I like supporting local initiatives - Hakanoa is just down the street from where I live so it's incredibly local. But I won't be buying Hakanoa's product again.

They claim they were just a cog in a greater campaign orchestrated by ginger-haired parents of ginger-haired kids, concerned about bullying. One of the dads works for M&C Saatchi and you'd have to say, if that's the best he can do, M&C Saatchi wouldn't be the first ad agency you'd go to.

I don't mind a bit of harmless ribbing - I'm a blonde so I've been the subject of blonde jokes for years and on occasion deservedly so. Asking how many teams there were in the Super 14 competition made me an object of ridicule for years.

I also don't mind the odd fat joke and, quite frankly, if you can't laugh at yourself, you could be missing the best joke around. But I'm a grown-up. I've got a healthy sense of who and what I am and I'm pretty bomb-proof when it comes to insults.

Kids are a different kettle of fish. Anyone who's read Lord of the Flies knows just how cruel kids can be to one another - hell, anyone who was slightly different and hasn't blocked their playground memories knows how cruel kids can be. And you're a lot more fragile when you're young.

If Hakanoa and the ad-land dad had really wanted to promote positivity around redheads, there could have been so many, many ways to do that. As it is, the kids aren't going to see the reverse psychology in this.

All they're going to hear is that their parents never wanted them. Stupid, negative, provocative statements get a lot of noise around them - but any ad man worth his salt should know that noise doesn't equal effect.

Man the lifeboats; let everyone fend for themselves

The idea that in a shipwreck it's women and children first has been exposed as a myth, after scientists examined the survival rate of passengers from 18 maritime disasters.

Women had a survival rate higher than men in just two wrecks: the Titanic in 1912 and the Birkenhead in 1852. In the other 16, it was every man for himself, quite literally, proving self-preservation will trump gallantry nearly every time.

I do wonder whether the ridiculous garments that women wore before 1950 may have contributed to their mortality rate in the wrecks, but the Swedish researchers, who looked at shipwreck data from 1852 to last year, made no comment on reasons for survival or death.

As a 47-year-old woman, who's lived a fabulous life thus far, and who has no dependent children, I wouldn't expect a young man to sacrifice his life for me. Life right now is the sprinkles on the cherry on the icing on the cake.

I have made glorious mistakes, had more wonderful experiences than I ever imagined I would have and my daughter is a young adult, making her own life. Sure, I would love to live long enough to be a naughty nana - and there is still the boxed set of The Wire that I plan to view with the Irishman one winter in a beachside bach that will be our retirement home, but I can't be greedy.

If push came to shove (as well it may in a disaster), I hope that I will have the presence of mind to let a young man go before me. The old adage of women and children first has been shown to be a myth.

I would like to propose that the new rules of conduct should be parents of dependent children first; children second; young adults third - then let the old crones and the crusty old goats fight it out among themselves.

- Herald on Sunday

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