No Comment, Newcastle: “Not an Attractive Woman”

Under direction of its new ad agency, Droga5, the makers of U.K. beer Newcastle Brown Ale have invested in their first national TV spot. Launched April 2, the “No Bollocks” ad appears at first to be a dull and drawn out demonstration of the beer brewing process. But … wait for it … there’s a punchline: “Why do we focus so much on our brewmaster’s hands? Because she is not an attractive woman.”

Lest women be offended, Droga5’s brand director, Charles Van Es, helpfully explains the thought process behind the commercial:

With this campaign we are going to be very honest with our consumers. Our guys know it when they are marketed to, so we believe it’s time for a beer brand to give it to them straight, just like their best mates would do. The people of Newcastle, England–Geordies–don’t take themselves too seriously, love a good joke, and most importantly, they tell it like it is. Our ads celebrate these traits by using a no-nonsense approach, where we are not over promising anything.

So let’s get this correct, Newcastle Brown Ale is honest about using the hackneyed approach of sexist advertising in order to market itself as a beer for men. It does not seem to have any worries at all that disregarding half of the population with this “no nonsense” advertising will result in financial loss.

I’ll give it to them–they are definitely straight in their construction of their imaginary target audience. This “Geordie” type sounds like a mid-20s frat boy who spends his Friday night sitting around a table trying to one-up his fellow “best mates” in an insecure attempt to assert his masculinity. Somehow I’d guess that homosexual men are not welcome at that table.

But most importantly, Newcastle Brown Ale is talking no nonsense. They don’t need to sell their product with sexy women, they can sell it with an ugly woman, because they’ve got quality (just, apparently, not quality advertising.)

We’ve got some no-nonsense words for Newcastle Brown Ale and its parent company, Heineken International. Listen up: The stereotype that professional women are ugly went out with the Cold War. Women around the world work in professional careers and are highly respected by their male peers. One of them is Rachel Sutherland, an actual woman brewmaster at Newcastle Ale, whom we’d would wager isn’t too happy about this ad.

If you agree that Heineken and Newcastle Brown Ale are doing a disservice to women and men by perpetuating outdated stereotypes that all successful, intelligent women are ugly and that all male beer drinkers are Archie Bunker, email all three companies by signing our petition:

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For a more personal touch, you can call Newcastle’s customer service line at 1.877.522.4577 and really tell it like it is.


  1. For the official Newcastle Corporate Communications defense of this commercial (on which I call bollocks), visit my blog at

  2. Newcastle Brown Ale doesn’t have much to be proud of anyway. My beer-loving friends call it the artificial beer. Their brewing skills are like their social skills it seems.

    Petition signed!

  3. You’d think that — somewhere along the line — someone in Newcastle’s management or advertising department would have figured this one out. I thought this kind of sexist advertisingv had gone out with the buggy whip and whalebone corsets. But, no, someone comes along who thinks this is funny? This advertisement is disgusting, unwarranted, and very offensive. Newcastle Ale — you have an ailment that cannot be cured by your drink. It’s called stupidity on behalf of a woman, all of whom represent more than a pretty face. We are members of the human race. Cordially, Ellen Kimball, Portland, Oregon — 50 years in media, marketing, sales, television and radio. Google me if you want information or photos.

  4. Seriously, people? What is wrong with all of you? I’m a woman, I’m 46, and intelligent and I’m not offended by this commercial. It’s a joke! I thought it was hilarious when I first saw it. You can clearly see that the “woman” brewmaster is actually a man. WTF! The world has gotten too crazy with all this PC talk. It’s only offensive if you’re humorless. Time people stopped being so worried about PC talk and start worrying about serious women’s issues, like the fact that women’s rights are being whittled away by the right wing conservatives. Now that’s offensive!

  5. Oh my gosh, that commercial cracked me up! Sorry, but I’m a woman and thought it was silly and it made me laugh. It’s okay to be politically incorrect now and then 🙂

  6. Chris Bell says:

    Its not sexist, the person in the ad is clearly a man and it is making fun of the other companies that use the idea that sex sells. If you want to fight an ad, fight those ones.

  7. Rachel Sutherland says:

    I have just found this article so I am a little late to join in the debate, but as the Rachel Sutherland mentioned in this peice i thought I should post. IT IS A JOKE! Ok, maybe using British humor in an American advert was expecting a little too much, but is there the same backlash for the Dos Equis adverts? Newcastle Brown Ale has been brewed to the same recipe since it’s development in 1925. Chris you are correct, clearly it is a man. Ellen, you must know that using sex to sell is the oldest trick in the book. Heineken USA and their agency are saying they want to use honesty and some humor. As we say i the UK; calm down dear, it’s only a commercial!

    P.S. Kristen, you did not ask my opinion before you wrote this, but I was more than happy.

  8. The British have different sensibilities when it comes to humor; instead of the American “PC-or-Go-Home” mindset, they consider everything as “Nothing is Sacred”.
    So relax, it may have been a bad ad campaign across the pond, but domestically it probably earned a good chuckle.

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