Everyone understands that a thin line exists between humor and sexual harassment. Add marketing and the line becomes thinner still. This thought has been put into sharp focus when Reverend Katy Lee, a Rochester resident, complained about the name of a local beer brand. Her complaint led to a Social Media frenzy. She holds the position of pastor at the local Christ United Methodist Church.
Twist a tradition
The chain of events began when Reverend Lee's eyes fell on a billboard along the US 52. The billboard displayed the name and graphics of her favored brewery and restaurant. The beer advertised is named “Easy A Minnesota Blonde”. Lee, she later told those who asked about it, had no problem with the advertisement if it was given by an establishment or restaurant not favored by her. This restaurant was one of her favorites and she claimed to care about the establishment. In addition, the restaurant was located in her town and the brewery was her favorite. It was also a coincidence that her hair was blonde. She did not prefer the graphic of a woman kissing a man. The text too was off-putting: Mark Your Territory”. The billboard has been put up by Grand Rounds Brewing Company.
Complaint and response
Tessa Leung, the owner of Grand Rounds company, responded by saying that the name of the beer has taken from a movie name “Easy A”. This movie a modern story and a comedy referencing a Puritan novel. The name of the novel is “The Scarlet Letter”. The Puritan punishment for sex outside wedlock for women is wearing scarlet “A”'s. The idea of the advertisement is to play on a standard sexist message and give it a positive spin. Leung said the advertisement has splashes of humor and a little daring. She said that she has powerful and vocal female friends who love this advertisement.
This billboard issue snowballed when Lee's opinions were picked by the local television and a local story was crafted around what she complained. Local social media soon perked up and it caught the eyes of a weekly newspaper. Support for both sides came in droves. A few termed the advertising an offensive one. Others said that the billboard is not an issue at all. It is disproportionately receiving attention compared to other pressing issues at hand. When it came to Lee, it did change her opinion concerning the billboard.