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Review: Miller Beer Advertising

Riordan, T. (1989, March 27). Miller Guy Life: The Lites of Spring. The New Republic, pp. 16-17.

Summary

(Download Miller Guy Life overview as a PDF)

This article focuses on the advertising strategy that Miller Brewing Company used to court teenage and young adult males to drink their beer at “Spring Break.”

Is it true that most beer advertising assumes that young adult males have two overriding concerns: getting drunk and “being laid?” The author responds, generally, yes. She believes that it is under these presumptions that beer companies (Miller Brewing in particular) devised strategies to reach the young male (and predominantly college) marketplace. This article examines a multi-page, high gloss advertisement called, “Beachin’ Times” that appeared in 54 campus newspapers just before “spring break.”

The author believes that beer advertisers, when directing their message to young males (ages 18-24), aim right at the core of these fast-changing and impressionable consumers-their sexual identity. The theme of the ads in “Beachin’ Times” basically focuses on how to “pick up” girls during spring break and turn them into personal play toys. One such picture shows naughty blondes in tight bikinis barely covering their firm breasts holding up a gigantic bottle of Miller Lite.

The text of the ad states, “These swell posters make an eye-catching addition to your ‘naked’ walls…Ask for them at the Miller Spring Break Oasis. Then study a whole new set of figures.” Another part of the text addresses a volleyball program. The catchy lead-in: “Name something you can dink, bump, and poke. Hint-it’s not a Babe!” Of course, it’s a volleyball! And six Miller cheerleaders, all sexy and inviting babes, cheer for you while holding a Miller in hand.

The importance of this article lies in the usage of meeting male sexual needs and drives as a springboard for increasing consumer base (and profits). Young males are still in a search mode-looking for their personal sexual identity and value formation. Beer advertising on TV often suggests that the men drinking this brand of beer usually are tough, cool, and win the babes. Even a dog named “Spuds McKenzie” has women flocking to his side on commercials. And Bud Lite is his preference.

Hugh Rank, in his book, The Pitch, calls the effort to win consumers, “propaganda”-or organized persuasion. The young adult beer market is predominantly male, so this is a great place to win converts to the product. Many studies speak of “brand loyalty”-a phenomenon among this young generation. So turning a profit means not only targeting the right market but also giving them the illusion that they can get what they want (girls, sex, power) by drinking the product you offer them. The message: “Be a real man-and drink the beer that assures you of it.”

The author’s conclusion is that beer companies believe that the beer a male drinks is like his badge or identity. Miller Brewing, with this is mind, understood the male ego and need for sexual affirmation. So their ad campaign to young boys and men aimed to prove that they can be what they hope to be-strong, good-looking “babe and sex-kings.”

Questions for Reflections and Discussion

  1. How does beer advertising affect your view of the sexuality of the male? The female?
  2. Do you believe that the advertisers appeal to the male ego?
  3. Why are male athletes usually the main characters in television beer advertising?
  4. Why is beer advertising so prominent on sports shows and events?
  5. Do you think that young teenage males are impressionable? Do these ads make an impression on them? If so, what kind of impression? If not, why not?
  6. Do these advertisements suggest that you can have the lifestyle of those in the ad if you drink their product?
  7. Is it possible to have a happy social and intimate relationship with the opposite sex without the consumption of beer?
  8. How would your teen friends (males) respond to “Beachin’ Times”?

Implications

  • Youth workers need to be aware of the strategies and techniques employed by alcohol advertisers, and what impact can be made on teenagers and young men in the youth group or small group. This article advises that young adults and teens are highly impressionable and still in search of their sexual identities.
  • As youth leaders, it is vital to be aware how pop culture molds the youth of America. Habits are created and affirmed through the influence of advertising. Youth workers can “stand in the gap” and directly address those influences. This can be done by helping youth to be discriminatory, selective, and aware.

Hank Stoppelbein
© 2017 CYS

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