Last week, Diageo announced its new flavored whiskey lineup, including extensions of Jeremiah Weed and Crown Royal, as well as the new brand “Piehole.”
The company said: “Piehole was inspired by grandma’s favorite pie recipes. They are a delicious blend of Canadian whisky and pie flavored liqueur. This new-to-world product is available in three tempting flavors: Apple Pie, Cherry Pie and Pecan Pie. Piehole Whiskies will be available beginning in November for a suggested retail price of $14.99 for a 750 mL bottle.”
I’ve made my opinions on flavored whiskey fairly public in Whisky Magazine columns and my blog post “Flavored Whiskey, Big Money & The Toilet Bowl.” I don’t like the stuff and never will. But I completely understand there is a market for flavored products. Last year, according to Nielsen research, flavored North American Whiskey grew 63 percent with all other market signs pointing toward more room to grow.
Distilleries are going to keep making this stuff, no matter how much I protest it. So, let’s acknowledge the category for what it is–Frat Boy Liqueurs.
For the first time, a spirits company has come right out of the gate with a product and not hidden its intentions whatsoever. With busty women holding pies and sitting on pies, Piehole will appeal perfectly to the 21-year-old “what’s up, dude?” demographic in the fraternity houses.
Piehole will be a success in every circle that includes immature men. So, kudos to Diageo for not trying to hide from this fact.
But in a time when society is trying to move away from sexism and 1950s-era female stereotypes, Piehole is a huge fail. In its marketing, Diageo says Piehole is inspired by grandma. If that’s the case, why are there mid-20th Century strippers on the label? If we’re really trying to sell grandma’s recipes, how about a tasteful image of a grandma? Oh, yeah, that’s not going to appeal to Johnny Frat Boy.
With that said, I do not believe Piehole violates any industry edicts that the Dewar’s advertisement was guilty of last year. The women sitting on pies evokes imagination, but likely manages to comply within industry code.
Much like what we saw with the Woodford Reserve television commercials, which many deemed sexist, we’ll probably see a social media outcry, but Diageo will likely not budge on its Pieohole marketing. After all, Diageo’s job is to make money for shareholders. And Pieohole will capture the targeted demographic.