I started this post a while back–July, to be more specific–about how I was taking a break from my daily routine of eating bon bons, drinking champagne, and bitching about accidentally drinking fabric softener–LIKE I DO–to write about this commercial I’d seen online. It was a beer ad and it went a little something like this…
WHAT. THE. HELL.
No, really? What the hell? There’s like a 5 minute infomercial on the Miller site if you need a little more jiggling in your day, by the way. I want to make sure I understand all the important points of this commercial:
- Ladies must be in charge of men at all times lest they do something horrendous like, I don’t know, drink from the toilet bowl.
- If we wimmins don’t watch them at all times, our men will drink pussified beer.
- Drinking said girly beer will cause them to be sterile, but more importantly, reduce their wage-earning capacity.
- Ladies will give up perfectly decent careers to serve men beer to keep them from doing something stupid like ordering a beer we think isn’t manly.
- Ladies must wax. A lot.
Okay, I made some of that up. Not all of it. The big trend in commercials the past couple of years is that men are big, dumb, blundering idiots and only women can save them from themselves. I could talk about it at length, but Sarah Haskins did a much better job than I could do.
Why is this okay? Really? Women do a pretty good job of letting companies know when they’re being sexist or insensitive to women’s issues. So why is it okay to portray men as walking meat sacks who can barely form sentences, let alone cook breakfast OR KNOW WHAT KIND OF BEER MAKES HIM LOOK VIRILE?
I will be totally honest and tell you if I see you’re drinking Miller Lite, I make some assumptions. I figure you drink that because it’s the closest thing to soda you can drink and still say you’re a beer drinker. I DON’T assume you’re drinking it for its flavor. Same for Michelob Ultra. I assume you want beerwater. (True story: My husband and his friend were in Alex’s in Memphis and this dude comes up to the bar and orders an Ultra. Rocky helpfully told him where the water fountain was.) And yes, advertising has shaped how I view you based on the beer you’re drinking. I’m assuming if you’re a dude drinking Lite, you really like boobs. Lots and lots of boobs. And I’m going to assume you are intensely brand loyal, because we tend to be. I’m trying desperately to find this statistic I just read that says something like 80% of the market is owned by 20% of the brands. So, Miller, you get a pass on the boobs as far as I’m concerned because you have to go with what works. Because you’ve got a budget and you could sell sugared shit on a shingle if boobs are involved. Also, I just want to say boobs one more time. BOOBS! (After I typed that I took time for JAZZHANDS!)
The other day, my friend sent be a link to a new brand of beer called Chick Beer. Now, this is where I digress…
About a million years ago, I was in this local TV ad for a store called Gibson’s. It was sort of a local TG&Y. So my friend (‘Cause y’all she’s gorgeous and I was like the sad, dumpy friend in a really large shaker-knit sweater) played the girl with the cool denim mini-skirt. And it was Chic. The brand. But, in case you missed the ’80s, Chic is pronounced like chick, not like sheek. And I was to say, “Wow, I love that CHICK skirt! Where’d you get it?” And she was to turn to the camera and say, “I got it at Gibson’s!” And there SHOULD have been a wink and like one of those star-burst rendering things glowing from her eye or her teeth, but sadly that was not in the budget. Point is, we had to do it over and over because I could not make myself say CHICK. Hilarity did not ensue.
Okay, so I get this link to Chick Beer. And it’s sort of awesome because on their site, they say, “What we think is sexist is that the beer industry has totally ignored the female beer drinking market, which drinks 25% of all the beer consumed in the United States – over 700 million cases every year! Yet the beer industry has always focused on creating and marketing beer to men. Just take a look at the packaging and ad campaigns of the brands out there.” And that’s exactly how I felt after seeing the Miller Boobs commercial. But then, there’re boobs on this beer, too. They’re just encased in a little black dress. And they have to tell you that the beer itself is not actually pink. (Although, to be fair, Tab had that moment of stupidity when they took my favorite fizzy beverage from awesome to dumb by turning it pink. So, you know, shit happens)
They also support “charities that empower women”, according to the website, but a Tweet from me asking what these charities were was not returned. So that could be cool.
But…it’s light beer. And I’ve never met a light beer I wanted to spend the night with. I have range. I like porters. I like IPAs. See? One extreme t’other. Light beer doesn’t have a place in my world. I think if you’re that concerned with calories you need not to be drinking beer or pick your beer more carefully so you can spend your calories on flavor. Okay, yes. There was that brief infatuation with Beast Lite in college, but quarts were like $.89, dude.
Here’s the thing. I’m told that because money is so tight, there will be no going outside the boob box when marketing beer. The Goliaths are going to stick with boobs, horses, and football. But I like football. AND, not for nothing, but I have boobs. TWO of them. But if it’s true that 80% of sales come from 20% of the market, what’s to lose? Seriously. I guess the question is, will men walk away from Goliath Lite if women get in on the marketing action?
There are also some brands that are less about the boobs and more about the quality of the product: New Belgium Brewing (Fat Tire), Abita Brewing, Samuel Adams (which is also now the largest U.S.-owned brewery) and Lazy Magnolia. I include Lazy Magnolia because not only is it my hometown brewer and I’m awful fond of their Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale and Reb Ale, but they put a woman on the six-pack carrier. Just a woman. She’s just sitting, having a good time drinking beer. No rhinestones. No ruffles. Just a beer drinker who happens to be a she. I’m told Abita’s Strawberry Harvest is popular with women, but when you look at the website, it doesn’t talk about that. It talks about how it’s brewed with Louisiana strawberries and is good with mozzarella and chevre. Also? Their Satsuma Harvest Wit made me like a wheat beer.
Now, if I were launching a beer, I’d target it to women and I’d be up front about it. Just like Chick Beer. I’d just do it a little differently. Introducing…