Tag Archives: beer

Cultural Leaders and Laggards, the problem with beer ads

I love this ad.  How quickly bashful behavior gives way to full-on performance.  And how this disappears (when the woman enters the store). And then reappears (when it occurs to our singer that there is a small chance the strangers might actually come listen to him.)

Funny. Human. With lots of little grace notes. The store is brilliantly cast. The singer is that perfect combo of surprisingly good and still terrible.  The way the woman rolls her eyes in “whatever” dismissal when she enters the store to find a man singing.

Beer advertising has been the bad part of town when it comes to cultural creation and creative ingenuity.  TV with the advent of really good shows and new nuance has stolen the lead. Now it can be really painful to move from good narrative to bad advertising.

Beer advertising has been especially trying on the gender theme. As Bob Garfield has pointed out, beer ads treat men in a way that’s patronizing and diminishing. In a really symmetrical universe, men would protest this treatment with outrage and boycotts.  (Or at least roll their eyes in “whatever” dismissal.)

Beer advertising has been tone deaf when it comes to culture. Yes, some guys continue to act like dolts, and all guys treasure moments of deep, unapologetic stupidity at least some of the time. But beer advertising has to wake up and come to grips with the revolutions taking place in the world of maleness.

There are all kinds of things, a new feeling for play, wit, creativity, multiplicity and, yes, performance. Which brings us back to this Miller Lite ad which acknowledges this new development with just the right combo of tender heartedness and ruthless scorn. Very male that.  (Or maybe not.)

Hat’s off to MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Andy England and  TBWA\Chiat\Day LA and director Matt Aselton of Arts & Sciences.

That Mythic Beer Guy

We are sure to see lots of him during the Super Bowl.  Call him the Beer Guy.  He is happy, loud, playful and a bit of a dunce.  He could be a fraternity brother.  He could be a sports fan. But most of all he’s a myth.

The Beer Guy is mostly a figment of the marketing imagination.  He was invented to sell things to men.  And men, many of them, like Beer Guy well enough.  Most of these guys can do a convincing performance of Beer Guy.  And there are moments when this is precisely the person they wish to be.

But it’s also true that even for these guys, Beer Guy is a stereotype and an embarrassment.  As the standard device for selling beer, it is tired, stupid and done.

Certainly, if you put guys in a focus group room, they will tell you how much they like beer guy.  After all, this is the idiom men use for certain social occasions.  But if we spend a little more time talking to men, we discover that there are depths and subtleties to masculinity and most males that the Beer Guy modality does not capture and cannot represent.  Indeed, there are many people in the average portfolio of selves than marketer’s seem to know about it.  It’s as if marketing has latched on to Beer Guy and now clings to him for dear life.

Does Beer Guy sell beer?  I think there’s a certain amount of wear-out here.  It’s enough already.  Guys are not going to foment a revolution of the kind that women brought against marketers.  No, they will just grow ever more tepid in their brand enthusiasm.  Anyone who insists on using Beer Guy to sell beer is trading in tedium.  And is there any thing more tedious than a typical beer ad.  Really, in the world of culture and creativity, the typical beer ad comes across of the idiot cousin.

Somewhere someone right now is working on an ad for the SuperBowl.  Let’s ask them to do at least this: work in secret signals that let us know that you know that this is not all there is to the American male.  These guys you insist on portraying as big happy dopes?  They actually have higher intellectual faculties.  How about engaging them?

Note: this post was lost in December of 2009, thanks to Network Solutions incompetence.  I am reposting it today December 24, 2010.