While watching NCAA basketball this weekend (and lamenting about my bracket, which is now officially just a list of teams that lost) I caught a commercial that really irritated me. It was the latest ad for Miller Lite’s Man Up campaign.
The message that Miller Lite seems to want to send to its viewers is that if you don’t drink the right kind of beer, then you must be a woman, and being a woman is bad. The Man Up campaign consists of several ads in which a man chooses not to drink Miller Lite, consequently making him “less masculine” then other men. In fact, he is so much less masculine that he must be a woman (because of course, women have no idea what a good beer tastes like). Take a look below.
Wow, so if you don’t drink Miller Lite, then you must be a skirt-wearing sissy. And people who wear skirts are losers (even women think so! We must all hate each other). The fact that in many of these ads Miller Lite portrays women delivering the gendered insult conveys a false veil of safety for the company; therefore, if women are making the offensive remark, then it must be ok to be sexist or misogynistic.
Other Man Up ads feature men who don’t order Miller Lite beer being scorned for having female characteristics such as: having a lower back tattoo, wearing a thong (to which the bartender taunts, “Don’t get your panties in a bunch”), carrying a purse, or wearing skinny jeans. And of course the commercials are quick to have surrounding cast mates in the advertisement jeer at the man who made the female mishap. They poke fun at him for being inferior to other men who choose to drink Miller Lite. I’ve posted a few commercials below for your viewing pleasure.
I can only conclude that Miller Lite either a.) hates women, b.) has no women working for them, or c.) thinks that women don’t drink beer.
In reality, these commercials are offensive to both men and women. Miller Lite demands an extreme level of gender conformity, and insists masculinity (or femininity) is defined by your characteristics and tendencies, not by your sex.
This strict adherence to cultural gender roles is seen throughout several companies’ advertisement campaigns, reinforcing that we, as viewers, must obey the unspoken societal rules that determine whether we are a man or a woman. Remember the Old Spice man? Of course! Because he smells like a real man, not like a woman, as he points out in this commercial several times.
Anyone remember the Dockers commercial that reminded men how important it is to "wear the pants," both literally and figuratively? Because you have to wear Dockers pants if you want to be considered a "real man."
Using gender labels to guilt consumers into buying products is a common practice in today’s advertising techniques, but it’s important for us to remember that we define who we are, not the cultural myths that we are socialized to believe. Take pride in yourself and don't assign false value to material things. No beer, clothing, perfume, or car will make you either more or less of a man or woman than you already are. What you buy does not determine who you are. Today’s lesson: Don’t let anyone brand you into something you are not. Don’t let yourself be an easy target for those companies that prey on consumers’ insecurities. Create your own labels and value your individuality. Only you can decide who you are. These commercials aimed at making us feel as if there is some stereotype we must conform to (or live up to) are growing old. Gender roles today are becoming more blended and less conventional as acceptance for diversity increasingly grows in society. Don't let these ads subconsciously cast you into a mold; uniformity is boring.