Skol Lager is among the most popular beer brands in Rwanda. A Belgian Company, Unibra, brews the beer. Skol Brewery launched a new ad campaign dubbed ‘Live Laugh Lager’ on Friday, the 16th of August 2019. On the same day, Richard Kwizera announced the unveiling of the Skol Lager new look on Twitter.
“Beer company @SkolRwanda has unveiled Skol Lager new look and announced a partnership with local comedians ‘Comedy Knights’ as part of enabling beer drinkers to take life a bit easy with enriching jokes. Skol Lager new look comes alongside a new campaign dubbed #LiveLaughLager.”
Rwandan newspaper, New Times, quoted the brand manager for Skol Lager, Emilienne Benurugo, saying that the company’s aim was to help customers not to take life too seriously. The campaign, however, had to end only three days later. This is because it featured jokes about women on its bottle labels, which infuriated many.
One of them was “When can a woman make you a millionaire?”–The Answer, “When you are a billionaire.”
Another one, which was in French, translates to “How does a beauty queen try to kill a fish?”–The answer, “By putting its head in the water.”
Many felt that such statements by Skol beer’s ‘Live Laugh Lager’ campaign were sexist and demeaning to women. Those who were not happy with the jokes took to the #livelaughlager campaign’s Twitter page with angry responses.
“Sexist jokes are NOT funny…they perpetuate the narrative that women are less intelligent and capable than men!”
Another tweeter, Juliette Karitanyi, tweeted that the jokes undermined the work of Rwandan women and that they were not laughing about it.
Chantal Umuhoza, an economist, posted, “Not in this country!”
Nsanga Sylvie, who describes herself as loving technology, said that she would boycott Skol.
All this reached the attention of the Minister for Gender in Rwanda, Soline Nyirahabimana, who reacted as well. She shared a picture of the Skol beer bottles and a tweet.
“Such language demeaning women is not acceptable in our country, Rwanda. It shouldn’t be tolerated… and should be punished by law.”
Isabelle Kalihangabo, deputy secretary-general of Rwanda Investigation Bureau, the federal crime agency, also reacted to this.
“This is not acceptable at all! Skol Rwanda should apologise and remove the product from the market. Otherwise, no woman, no man who supports women should buy or drink such a beer.”
The occurrence was rather surprising, especially because the World Economic Forum ranked Rwanda fifth in the world for gender equality in 2016.
Following the reaction on social media, the company had to say sorry to the public. The illustrator for the campaign apologized first saying it did not conform to his personal values. The brewery apologized after BBC contacted it. In a post on Twitter, Skol Rwanda said that it was sorry for any offense that it caused and that it had stopped the production of the jokes.
“Dear Customer, We’re aware of the responses on social media to some jokes published with the #livelaughlager campaign. Thank you for your feedback, we take it very seriously and apologize for any offense caused. We’ve stopped production of these jokes.”