That was the question on my mind when I read that Longoria had been announced as the new spokesperson for Heineken Light -- she'll star in a television commercial set on the sidelines of a basketball game.
Genius, I thought. Longoria is a gorgeous yet relatable star with broad appeal. The basketball theme's a no-brainer -- she's there in the front row, cheering on husband Tony Parker, at almost every Spurs game. And the product fits -- a lower-calorie beer, something that many women might be willing to listen to Longoria talk about.
Except that she won't be talking to them.
When I watched this behind-the-scenes video about the commercial, I pieced together the full arc of the ad. Longoria may be there, looking fabulous, but she's part of a prize package. Two guys get upgraded, unexpectedly, to seats on the floor; they get to taste the delicious new Heineken Light, and they get to sit next to the gorgeous Longoria. The look in their eyes says it all: Score!
And maybe it will be -- but only among the over-over-over-saturated male market. People have been decrying beer companies as sexist for years -- and sometimes, as in the case of Miller Lite's infamous fountain catfight, they are. But sex sells men everything from razors to sports cars -- it's nothing new. What's more shocking about beer marketers is how stubbornly they persist in catering only to men.
I kind of thought a revolution was afoot last year, when Portfolio.com's Lew Bryson exhorted beer companies to make 2008 the year they captured a female audience -- and by August, it seemed like some of them were were actually listening. But nothing seemed to come of it.
Here's one reason why 2009 (and 2010) could be even better years for beer companies to take Bryson's advice: beer is cheap. In a climate like this, women are thinking twice before blowing $30 on mojito fixings. So, Heineken, capitalize: keep Eva on for a second campaign, and give her a script that speaks to her own gender.
Just don't try to sell us that ladybeer prototype with the pastel bottles and the shimmery tap. We're here to drink, not get our nails done.
Eva Longoria sells women swimsuits from Bebe and hair color from L'Oreal. But can she sell beer from Heineken? For more stories about this industry, browse through our gallery.
Don Ryan, AP
Don Ryan, AP