The sham artists at Skinny Girl Cocktails have struck again. Over the past few years some of you may have seen the Skinny Girl craze take root, with its lineup of low-calorie, low-alcohol bitch liquids hitting the shelves one after another like a physical manifestation of a vomiting trash bin at a Sex and the City storyboard meeting.
You know; the episode where Carrie thought that the only difference between rubbing alcohol and a sophisticated cocktail was natural flavor. Of course, alcohol is highly caloric, and the biggest hook for these products, is that they are low calorie, much of that having to do with their reduced alcohol content, meaning you have to drink more to get drunk, thereby nullifying the “benefits” of it being low-calorie in the first place. Being that nutritional information is never listed on alcohol; it would be difficult to compare Skinny Girl to anything else anyway.
Recently one of my local grocers started carrying the new Skinny Girl wines, the prices of which averaged five dollars more expensive than a typical bottle of middle-of-the-road wine. The big selling point, again, is that they are low in calories. Specifically, these wines are 100 calories per 5 oz serving. Do you know how many calories the average 5 ounce glass of normal wine has? How many calories can 5 ounces of anything have? I doubt a 5 ounce glass of lard has much more than 100 calories, its only 5 ounces! Well I typed into Google “calories in wine” and what do you know, the first thing on the page is a calorie calculator for over a dozen different kinds of wine. So I searched the most popular kinds and this is what I found.
Cabernet Sauvignon -122 calories
Chardonnay – 123 calories
Merlot – 122 calories
Pinot Grigio – 122 calories
Pinot Noir – 120 caloires
So lets reasonably assume that there is some wiggle room depending on the brand of wine you buy. The average 5 oz glass of wine still has 120 calories. The average glass of “diet” skinny girl wine has 100 calories. Doesn’t seem like much of a breakthrough to me. Does 20 less calories per glass equal a five dollar extra price tag? What else is sacrificed in the process? What about taste?
I’ve a couple ideas about justifying the taste of Skinny girl wine, even though I don’t know what wine in general tastes like, let alone Skinny Girl because I don’t have periods. Like most diet foods, shakes, and energy bars, they taste like shit, but they know you’ll eat them because either you’re fat and obsessed with not being fat, or you are anorexic and obsessed with not being fat. Also, the key demographic for this kind of product is women in their early to mid twenties, and they are too young to know the difference between fine and cheap wines and too inexperienced to have an idea what is good or bad. You could throw a bottle of Boones Farm in the middle of a group of barely-legal club-goers and they’d murder each other for a chance to drink it. They just don’t know any better.
The marketing strategy behind skinny girl relies on “empowering” adjectives as much as it relies on the ignorance of its target demographic. Try reading the official description of this wine without going blind from all the glitter and bullshit they throw into it:
This bronzed Italian beauty can spruce up any soiree with her sweet & chic style. Lightly effervescent, our low-cal Moscato wine slightly sparkles with notes of pear, peach and mango for a refreshing, yet delicate sip. To put it plainly, Skinnygirl™ Moscato is simply sweet! You can take our Moscato wine anywhere, from a laid-back picnic to a formal affair. She’s elegant and classy, while still down-to-earth — just how we like it!
Or hey, how about when the marketing VP for the brand the identified the target consumer as a “30- to 39-year-old persevering woman.” The bloody hell does that even mean? Persevering through what? A failing marriage, ungrateful kids, a dead end job and a mouthful of anti-depressants? Last time I checked that’s not perseverance, that life in general. From what I understand, the idea here supposed to be something along the lines of “sorry your life sucks because you are a gold-digging dunce and your fifth abortion rendered you barren, here’s some wine to help you cope.”
Their press release uses words like “sophisticated,” “classy,” “bubbly,” “free,” and “a woman who has it all” to such excess that it almost makes you believe a lesbian bottled her period, buried it in a rose garden, waited for it to ferment into a rainbow unicorn, and unleashed it in a vineyard. After reading the press release for Skinny Girl Wines, I had an inexplicable urge to go get myself a boob job. There comes a point where overusing feminist adjectives stops being cute and starts being the Apocalypse.
And speaking of cute, what I found cute about their website is between every three-sentence description of their wines, there was a button you could press that automatically scrolls you down the page to the next wine. I think this was a brilliant and welcoming addition to the site because the only people who would ever visit this site are women, and everyone knows that women are too callow to understand the complex machinations behind a scroll wheel. Its like they thought of everything! Every marketing strategy, every terrible product description, every god damn commercial was painstakingly formulated to scream “mid-life crisis.” I would almost expect that upon buying a bottle of this shit at your local grocer, they include a complimentary bowl of suicide in your reusable grocery tote.
Being the brainchild of one of the original “Real Housewives of New York” (No, I’m not kidding) and self-appointed “healthy-living entrepreneur” (still not kidding) Bethany Frankel, one would expect a bit of haughty pretension to be involved in the process of distribution and consumption. Nestled next to their social media app is a large advertisement for their most popular products, amongst them being cucumber flavored vodka. Has anyone ever noticed women’s obsession with cucumbers? Their cocktails are flavored with it, they put that shit over their eyes and in their water. For a bunch of “don’t-need-no-man” archetypes, the phallic allusion is strong with their obsession with all things cucumber. Also, last I checked, cucumbers don’t taste like anything, and neither does vodka. So having cucumber-flavored vodka is like marketing water-scented air. Its bullshit to the Nth degree. And speaking of social media, one look at the Skinny Girl Wine Twitter page reveals so much liquid bitch that it threatens to raise our ocean levels enough for make Al Gore make a documentary about it.
I stopped believing that people still had bullshit detectors a long time ago, so it doesn’t shock me in the slightest how popular this sham-brand has become. Ultimately, all underlying elements come together to form what I relent is a pretty ingenious market presence. Plenty of companies know that their consumers are stupid, but none are so perfectly crafted toward their end-user’s ignorance like Skinny Girl. And in this day and age, it’s less about the product and more about the marketing. Barak Obama’s reelection proves that, but I digress. With the sheer relentlessness of the feminism-wine machine, I may soon have to retire my beloved and long-served pick up line of “If I dont buy you a drink, will you still fuck me?,” because with twenty less calories per serving, you can’t not be in the mood for another glass. My only advice for such a well-orchestrated campaign is that with the launch of their next series of girly drinks, Beam LLC should try a more aggressive, direct marketing strategy. Including a coupon for Midol and replacing the words “persevering woman” with “middle-aged cumdumpster” would be a good place to start.