Eye brewery's pin-ups get the push in beer advertising row
Suspender-showing pin-up girls have been removed from the beer bottle labels of a local brewery.
The Second World War-style images were "sexist", according to a rival and have now been dropped.
The pin-ups, reminiscent of the "nose cone" art of wartime fighters and bombers, were chosen as a trademark of the 1-1-9 Brewery in Eye to reflect the American Air Force connections with Suffolk and the American hops it uses in its ale.
The USAF airfield at Horham, close to Wilby where the brewery was founded in 2014, was the original Station 1-1-9.
According to the brewery, now based on Eye Business Park, a Norfolk competitor complained the pin-ups broke Portman Group alcohol advertising rules, which says labels should not suggest drinking alcohol makes you more attractive to the opposite sex.
The brewery said it never heard from the Portman group but it did hear from "beer gurus" who felt strongly about sexism in the beer industry.
"Some were measured. Some were rude. Some were threatening," said a spokesman.
However, the brewery said that for each person that took exception to the pin-ups, 99 adored them. "We felt our beautiful, commissioned artwork had a context, had relevance," he said.
But some of the defence of the brand was sexist, the company said. "That made us uncomfortable."
So the pin-ups went into the archives, although that was also met with anger. "People wanted the girls back. We got attacked for being spineless, " said the spokesman.
Marc Medland, the company's brewer, said: "There is no right or wrong in this but we did feel we could not win whatever we did."
"We have never heard directly from the brewery that made the complaint. I would have thought a telephone call would have got this settled."
Although the pin-ups have gone, names of the planes they adorned – like Heart Breaker and Miss Behavin' – have stayed and the company has spent months working on equally distinctive new labelling, Mr Medland said.
As well as illustrations typical of the times, the brewery also liked the labels to "tell a good story," Mr Medland added.
One of the new labels reflects the legend of a flier based at Martlesham who smuggled a coyote pup into the country and took it with him on bombing raids over Germany.