Ad Review – Miller Lite “Man Up”

23 Nov

Welcome to the first of what I hope to a recurring series of Ad Reviews where your humble blogger will provide comment, criticism, and praise for the ads that are on while you go to the bathroom or press >> on the DVR remote.

In the 20th Century, there would be many credentials necessary for someone like me to publish critical commentary on the creative work of others – such as several years of experience in the ad game, dozens of big name clients I’ve helped, prestigious awards I’ve won, etc.

Fortunately for me, this is the 21st Century and my essential credentials are a) an internet connection, b) a free blog site, and c) a (mostly) functional keyboard* The fact that I have a degree in Advertising from (what is now) a prestigious Big Ten university probably makes me overqualified for the gig.

*I’m pretty sure somebody could pull off a serviceable blog without using any letters worth more than 5 points in Scrabble. Heck, I’m pulling it off so far. Of course, time will tell if I can get this puppy throttled up to “Serviceable”.

So let’s dive in…First up is Miller Lite’s “Man Up” campaign.

Product/Service:  Miller Lite

Campaign: “Man Up”

Campaign Theme in Haiku Format:

Request Miller Lite
Do not be a girl; Yet all
Light beer tastes the same

Visual

Commentary
Ah, the American light beer commercial.  We’re talking about some the best known (and most repeated) commercials of the past 25 years* as well as some of the most shallow and sexist commercials ever made.

*Off the top of my head…

  • Tastes great – Less filling
  • Bud.  Wise.  Errrrrr.
  • Spuds McKenzie, the party animal
  • Wassup!!!!
  • Swedish Bikini Team
  • Keith Stone
  • The first commercial of every Super Bowl for the last 15 years

Let’s face it – beer commercials are not exactly where one looks for true advertising greatness.  It is where one looks for slapstick comedy, talking animals, sexy women, groin shots, predictable jokes, and visual gags.  The “Man Up” campaign is no different.  Each features the same basic setup:  average looking guy goes up to the bar (tended by an attractive lady) and asks for a light beer.  Sexy Bartender asks Average Schmo if he cares about taste*.  Average Schmo says “no” and the bartender gives him a generic “LIGHT BEER” – along with a snide comment attacking his masculinity.  Cue visual gag (skirt, tramp stamp, skinny jeans, etc.) showing Average Schmo’s feminine side.  The announcer says his spiel before the close where another gag is made.  Hilarity ensues.

*Seriously, who orders any beverage without caring about taste?  “Sir, would you like your beer to taste like watery skunk pee or not?”  The only time anybody would say “no” to that question is if the main consideration was price, and even then you would probably go with something that provides a passable taste – or you go the College Route:  drink 1-2 “good” beers to get the taste and then switch over to the cheaper (and crappier) brew.

As far as beer ads go, these are somewhere in the middle of the road.  They aren’t horrible, but they are far from spectacular.  The gags are predictable and not all that amusing.  What bugs me about these ads is the very overt implication that choosing a beer other than Miller Lite makes you a girl/pansy/wuss/(insert non-PG derogatory term of choice here).

I think this concept is a spectacular failure.  Right out of the gate, Miller Lite is alienating any woman who would consider drinking their beer.  Miller is rather bluntly implying women aren’t smart enough to know a “great tasting, triple hopped” beer from generic swill.  Kudos on knocking out 50% of the population!

Next, Miller Lite attempts to offend another portion of their target market.  Are we to believe that there are people who choose their adult beverage solely out of insecurity?  Sure, I can see that if you really like strawberry daiquiris or appletinis you might opt for a generic light beer when you’re out with the boys so you don’t get mocked – unless, of course, you actually possess a little thing known as self-confidence.  Is Miller Lite positioning themselves as the beer of choice for insecure males?  If you’re going to go after a demographic, you should probably go after the alpha males who make the decision instead of the sheep who follow along blindly.

A notable failure of this campaign is with the Ladies Tee commercial.  We see the same setup (except the attractive bartender is replaced with the attractive beer cart girl) and the same implication (he who is not smart enough to pick Miller Lite plays golf from the women’s tees).  But it is the ending gag that sabotages the ad:  the guy hitting from the ladies tees finds himself playing with a foursome of rather attractive ladies.  Suddenly the other manly men don’t have a problem with playing from the ladies tees.

Overall Grade:  C
Demerits for the horrible positioning are offset by some amusing gags and the fact that we’re talking about beer commercials – the bar is pretty low.

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