Hard apple cider doesn’t get a lot of love from men.

The beverage, once a treat for Roman legionaries discovered during the invasion of Britain, is nowadays much more popular with women. But a new campaign from MillerCoors for Smith & Forge Hard Cider may change that, reminding menfolk to of the deliciousness of this historically  beverage.

Product marketing that crosses the gender divide isn’t always easy. We often take for granted products that were once dominated by a single gender. And while some examples, like the rise of women wearing pants, have fascinating histories, other products jump the gender gap after pioneering marketing campaigns.

It’s easy to forget that auto makers had to struggle for decades to get women behind the deal. What we know now as the “sub-compact” was a genius marketing move to sell a “commuter/shopping” vehicle to female drivers.

Nowadays, companies like Dr. Pepper hedge their bets on huge campaigns to convince men to start drinking diet soda. Another pioneer is GoldieBlox, whose campaign to get girls interested in engineering toys get a lot of positive attention in the press.

Of course, some attempts to jump the gender-divide go woefully wrong. BIC took a lot of flack for creating “Pens for Her” and Honda caused a backlash for creating a pink car with anti-wrinkle tints. Marketers need to realize there is a difference between targeting market segments to serve their needs, and pandering.

But hard cider’s problem lies partly in the tendency of male consumers to flee from products that they view as being heavily associated with women. If there were ever a case of a product being unnecessarily shunned by one half of the population, it’s hard cider.

According to a recent article in AdAge:

Smith & Forge is going after the common man. MillerCoors sees opportunity in the fact that cider purchases skew far less male than beer, according to Nielsen data cited by the brewer.

Guys continue to look for variety and different options, including cider,” said Rita Patel, director of new product development at MillerCoors. But existing brands have steered a “little bit too cute,” or their taste profiles are too sweet for men, she added.

Cider sales only account for 2% of the overall market share, but are rapidly outpacing beer in growth. While the overall beer market grows around 1.5% annually or even 17% for craft, sales for cider increased an average of 27% over a 5 year period from 2007-2012. Bloomberg Businessweek attributes the growth to women, gluten-free diets, and craft beer consumers.

The campaign is the work of Cavalry, which also created campaigns for Red’s Apple Ale and Coors Light. They’ve also enlisted the help of Breaking Bad tough guy Jonathan Banks, a.k.a. Mike Ehrmantraut.

Adopting a tone of olde time badassedness, the Smith & Hard Forge Cider Twitter feed has been creating hilarious content around hashtags like #19thcenturyproblems and #textsfromlastcentury.

smith and forge twitter

Or this instant classic:

smith and forge twitter 2

Messaging against cultural and gender biases is one of the most difficult, and rewarding, jobs a marketer can ever have. And if there has ever been a standard-bearer for how to do it well, MillerCoors seems like a front runner.

Injecting the perfect amount of “manly” aesthetics with humor and tweaking a product to fits its audience, Smith & Forge is sure to drop the gendered baggage traditionally associated with ciders.

All of this comes together to create an experience around the product that consumers can rally around, and we here at CBS think that is what makes marketing great.