Buy A Lady A Drink? Really?

Yes, we have a water crisis around the world.  And, yes we must acknowledge and do something about this.  But what kind of message is Stella Artois, the Belgian brewer, sending by saying that throughout the world “WOMEN spend much of their day trying to get enough water for their family.”

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Really?  Only WOMEN have to carry the water? Don’t men need and carry water? Where this may be true in many 3rd world countries, is this something we want to perpetuate?

Maria Meneuous wears a slinky jewel encrusted gown designed by Christian Soriano at the Oscars to publicize this campaign.

People are encouraged to purchase these goblets with this:

Water has played a key part in our 600-year brewing heritage, so we know its lasting impact. Yet today, 663 million people live without access to clean water, a problem that disproportionately affects women.

That’s why in 2015, through our Buy A Lady A Drink campaign, we helped provide more than 290,000 people in the developing world with 5 years of clean water, and in 2016 we’ve partnered again with to help more people around the world who don’t have access to it.

We believe it’s important for all of us to leave a mark. For every limited-edition Chalice sold, we can help provide 5 years of clean water for 1 person in the developing world.


When you read all this copy, it makes sense.  Yet, the message, is at best, mixed.  Sometimes the message gets muddled with glitz and glamour.  The Oscar dress by a famous designer has little to do with people in 3rd world countries who need water to live.  Yes, it gets attention, but be careful!

As a non-profit administrator I ran across so much of this type of fundraising.  In Albuquerque, where I live, there is actually a mud wrestling volley ball tournament to raise money for cancer.  Huh?  Since it is a co-ed event, much of it looks like a wet T-shirt contest.  Everybody (young under 30s seems to have a great time), but what kind of awareness are we raising?

I don’t want to be a politically correct feminist — well I am proudly a feminist — but what is the message of Buy A Lady a Drink?  It is a pick up line, right?  On some level this is demeaning to women.  Is it horrible?  Should we sue Stella Artois?  Of course not. But do we have to raise funding for worthy causes on the backs of brand recognition and CAUSE MARKETING.

Cause marketing – the way corporations get their brand out there associated with a worthy cause.  Those iconic Stella Artois chalices become visually identified with eliminating the global water crisis.  And that’s a good thing?? Right??

But how much simpler and more honest for Stella Artois to simply donate a percentage of their profits to  God knows that breweries certainly do use a lot of water to make their product.

Yes, but people get involved and they feel good about their contribution.  Yes, but how much does this cute Buy A Lady A Drink campaign cost?

Cuteness is rampant in cause marketing campaigns for everything from cancer to save a tree.  So many thank you gifts to individual donors at all levels.  This generates  donor fulfillment, labor insensitive work that is very expensive.  How much does it cost to send out those glass chalices?  Special boxes – special shipping, labor.  Oh goody, we have made some jobs – I guess.

A chalice can be purchased for various prices depending upon the country (Honduras, Kenya, for some reason Peru is most expensive) on Amazon.

It reminds me of Ronald McDonald House.  I had thought that the Ronald McDonald Houses around the country were completely supported by the McDonald’s corporation.  But, no, they put their name on it.  And people in small towns all over the world drop their quarters into plastic boxes to support a place for parents with sick children to stay near hospitals.  Why don’t we ask why the multi-million dollar, multi-national corporation doesn’t simply write a damn big check?!

It’s complicated but all part of the axiom that IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO DO GOOD — ONE MUST BE SEEN TO BE DOING GOOD!