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Offensive Commercials: Miller Lite "Man Up" Showdown!

Since I frequently share the TV with someone who loves NFL football, I've been watching a completely different set of offensive commercials as of late. (Typically I see the offensive ads directed at women, you know, the ones that make us feel like even even our armpits aren't pretty enough? Football ads are much dudelier but make me just as stabby, as it turns out.) Though ads during NFL games run the hypermasculine gamut, from objectifying women to implying that junk food is the only reason men have to get up in the morning, the campaign that prompts me to throw the most stuff at the television is Miller Lite's "Man Up" series.

Ads for light (or "lite," the spelling of which I still don't understand—are they trying to make it seem hipper? If so, it isn't working) beer have an embarrassingly sexist track record to begin with, but Miller Lite's secret spice blend of lazy jokes, antiquated stereotypes, and total nonsense make it the king of shitty beer advertisers. In fact, we've considered their aluminum bottle campaign in a previous showdown (it lost to the Dodge Charger ad, but they both suck). A plethora of crappy Miller Lite ads aired during football last weekend (they run different campaigns simultaneously, apparently, because the only way to ensure your terrible marketing gets through to your audience is to double down on the sexism) but the "Man Up" ads irk me the most. In fact, so many of these "Man Up" ads are on right now that it can only mean one thing: It's time for an Offensive Commercial Showdown!

Now, I probably don't need to explain to you why the very phrase "man up" is a problem. It equates being male with being successful. To "man up" means to take care of business, get your shit together, and stop being a worthless non-man (read: woman). "Manning up" is similar to "growing a pair" or having the "balls" to accomplish a difficult task. As we know, however, kicking ass and taking names is not an exclusively male activity. You know who didn't get that memo? Miller Lite.

OK, you know the rules: Four ads enter, one ad leaves! Which turd of a "Man Up" commercial reigns supreme?

1. Man Up: Skinny Jeans:

This is the latest in this heinous campaign. Not only does this ad promote arbitrary gender stereotypes (skinny jeans are fine for women but not for men—clearly the writers have never been to Portland where skinny jeans abound) but it contains the worst "zing" I've seen in ages. "Man, referring to his jeans: They're kinda 'in' right now. Woman: They're kinda not." Yikes.

2. Man Up: Skirt:

I'm sure by now you're noticing a trend here. A conventionally hot, no-shit-taking female bartender emasculates a male customer and shames him into caring about Miller Lite. In doing so, of course, she perpetuates stereotypes about not only men (that the only ones worth a damn adhere to masculine ideals as closely as possible) but about women as well (a real woman doesn't look twice at a non-normative guy, and the way to earn male respect is through rudeness). In this case, the offender in question is wearing a skirt. Remember how I warned you that these ads were lazy?

3. Man Up: Purse:

Aaand now a man can't have a tote bag at the bar without feeling the wrath of the snarky bartender and his generic dude friends. By the way, the more of these ads I see, the weirder the premise gets. Why are these guys saying that they don't care about how the beers they're ordering taste? And why is Miller Lite (which, in my estimation, doesn't have a very strong taste) being marketed as being a manly, flavorful beer in the first place?

4. Man Up: Momma's Boy:

In this iteration of telling someone to "man up" and order a Miller Lite, the man in question is at the bar with his mom. You know, because hanging out with your mom is totally not manly and no one wants to be around a guy who'd spend time with his mother. Ever. This ad stands out because it's the only one I've seen so far (and I've seen at least SEVEN of these so far) that features non-white actors. Unfortunately, the sexism is just as problematic here as it is in the others.

The Vote.

OK, I'm stopping myself at just four of these douchefests, though there are several more currently airing (man wears thong, man has lower back tattoo, man has glitter on his shirt, etc.). The theme throughout seems to be that any man doing something typically considered to be feminine, like carrying a bag or wearing tight pants, needs to be policed by those around him until he conforms and just orders a Miller Lite already. Though all of the "Man Up" ads are a combination of irritating, problematic, and tired, I bet you have a (least) favorite. Cast your votes!

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Comments

45 comments have been made. Post a comment.

I find it really ironic that

I find it really ironic that at the same time we have all these beer ads and politicians telling guys they need to "man up," there's also an article in the NYT about John Boehner, among other old white guy pols, breaking down in tears repeatedly on camera, and about how it's really okay for guys to be in touch with their sensitive sides. Funny, I don't think they'd be saying the same thing if it was Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton choking up on camera, or even Sarah Palin for that matter. So what the heck is going on? Are we in the middle of some kind of weird "manhood" crisis? Hyper-macho one minute and weepy and maudlin the next . . .

well...

It's always amusing to me how the hyper-masculine types' defense of their own (or fellow members of the tribe's) emotional displays rapidly deteriorates into a right to sulk. It's not that crying is perfectly normal for all humans and shouldn't be considered negatively feminine; it's that people are saying mean things about poor Johnny and that's not right!

Writer of this article is

Writer of this article is completely biased and people like this frustrate me to no end. Trying they're best to be "open minded". Yes, some of these issues aren't necessarily a problem but they have connotations associated with them within our culture. Each culture has their own. Way to try and pussify yet another fun thing...made me make my own word..

Hm.

Hi there,

As the frustrating writer of this article, I'm a little confused by your comments. How exactly am I trying to "pussify yet another fun thing" here? Is the fun thing you're referring to telling someone to "man up"? If you're accusing me of being biased because I'm a feminist who doesn't appreciate harmful gender stereotypes, then I'm guilty as charged I guess.

You're doubtlessly frustrated even further by my objection to the term "pussify," (it's no better than "man up" and in fact follows the same faulty logic) but I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Missing the point much?

Yeah, you gotta love the huge amounts of missing the point here. He (can I call you he?) tries to get back at you by telling you not to weaken and belittle something? By calling it a girl's part? You should man up!

Sigh.

"Do you care how it tastes?"

What a bizarre, nonsensical question; the fact that each man asserts he doesn't care is even weirder. Presumably, even if taste takes second priority to price or alcohol content, someone would prefer their beer to taste good, right? Plus, Miller Lite appears to be saying not caring about your drink's taste is womanly, which is a new sexist generalization in my book...

In the end, I had to choose option F: All of the Above. They're too similar to single one out for special douchitude.

Exactly! Besides being

Exactly! Besides being offensive, these ads just make no sense.

Since when is drinking things that taste bad a "girly" trait? And, in the skinny jeans version, would the pants be any better if they WERE in style right now (rather than "kinda not")? And in the "Mama's Boy" one, his mother is still coddling him at the end, so he hasn't really "manned up" (per the ad's standards).

It's all the more offensive because the makers of the ad clearly think that the joke of calling a man womanly is clever enough that they don't even need to bother making the spots make even minimal sense.

stop

they're trying to suggest that douchebags don't care how it tastes, not women. Lighten Up.

The message

Yes, they're suggesting that men in women's clothing and accessories need to "man up," because masculine people care how their beer tastes and feminine people do not. I stand by, and will not "Lighten Up," my previous statements.

Wow?!??!

These commercials simply are saying that if you are a man, act like one. Let's not forget that miller lite also has other commercials that are basically dont be a douche ads, "sunglasses inside" and "euro trunks." Lastly, if u take offense to an ad thats as silly as these are you're taking life way too seriously! The aim is to be funny but after reading your rants you obviously have never seen a beer commercial. That is all.

The aim is to be funny but

The aim is to be funny but after reading your rants you obviously have never seen a beer commercial.

Except that they aren't funny, and if you actually read her article she says that she has seen them. Beer commercials are kinda hard to miss if you watch any amount of television.

I say this as a guy who likes beer, football, and comedy: these commercials suck. They're inane, sexist and unfunny.

Agreed.

"I say this as a guy who likes beer, football, and comedy: these commercials suck. They're inane, sexist and unfunny."

Hear, hear! Being a guy that loves sports means being bombarded with commercials that seem to be in a race to appeal to the lowest common denominator. From Dodge, Chevy, Miller Lite, Carl's Jr. and the endless stream of 'erectile dysfunction' medications, it makes one almost want to give up watching the games live and just skip the commercials via the DVR.

To say nothing of the fact that they're hawking a beer that tastes like water that's somehow managed to spoil.

Nope.

Actually, Anonymous, Miller Lite is implying that the men in these ads are douchebags because they're exhibiting stereotypically feminine behavior (wearing a skirt, carrying a purse, etc.), so it's not really a stretch to say that these ads imply that not caring about taste is also a feminine trait (since they show the same men doing that as well).

Also, this blog is here to provide a feminist response to pop culture, so telling us to "lighten up" or "stop" when it comes to discussing the portrayals of men and women in the media isn't going to get you very far.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

I don't know if I'm a

I don't know if I'm a feminist but I do get annoyed when someone attempts to tell me what it means to be "a man". Especially someone trying to sell me something.

My wife and I are at a point where almost every commercial annoys us. We don't get offended but we do discuss how we're clearly not in the "target market".

I think there are some really great beer ad campaigns! I really liked the short-lived run of Miller Ads by Fallon McElligott in the late 90s. The Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man" campaign by Euro RSCG was also a campaign that had some great moments. I'm not a huge fan of either of those beers, but it is nice to imagine that Dos Equis sees their demographic aspring towards (or at least admiring) something interesting.

-s

Thanks, Kelsey!

I am one of those feminists who is a firm believer in having fun, but in having fun and calling out sexism at the same time with no apologies and if my fun is being ruined from out of nowhere without my consent (For example, I am assaulted and/or worse), than I have a right to stand up for justice and recourse. These ads are just plain bad.

Anonymous ... you don't happen to be Olivia Munn?? You remind me of her.

groan

Yeah, I don't get the taste (or lack thereof) aspect in these commercials. The sentiment seems to be, "Yeah, our beer tastes like piss but if you care about it you're a homo!" It'd be an interesting study to see if an audience responded more to an ad that emphasizes a good product or the fear of being considered "effeminate."

The fact that the men are being called out on their non-dudebro behavior by women is, to me, the most troubling, as it insinuates that women are responsible for upholding and desiring of brutish behavior in a man. And, you know, she's a bartender, not a patron...she's there to serve alcohol to an exclusively male clientele, not drink it herself.

manliness bouncers

I have to agree with you on the most troubling aspect being the fact that it's a woman doing the "calling out"- but I think it's because having a woman be the arbiter of manliness is even more insulting and degrading. Like, less that women are the ones supporting/enforcing male requirements and more that these standards are assumed to be so universally known and loved that even low-status folks- like female bartenders!- have the expertise and authority to enforce them. I could see a child, in a different setting, doing exactly the same thing.

But really I'm just here to hate on Miller Lite. That muck is skunky.

/not a bartender but I play one on TV

I think you're absolutely

I think you're absolutely right--about the role of the female bartenders in the commercials and about that muck being skunky.

Has anyone noticed...

That while there are non-white actors in that last one, EVERYONE in it is non-white? It's a black girl who "shames" the black guy. No race mixing. In ANY of them. The girl whom the guy wants to impress is seemingly the same race every time.

Racial homogeny is hardly

Racial homogeny is hardly exclusive to this campaign. It's hard to find anything on tv--ads or programs--in which people of different races are friends or love-interests and it's not a hot-button topic of discussion. And this is how many years after the civil rights movement? But that's another topic...

As for the ads, I agree, they're offensive and senseless. If anything I would think the feminine stereotype would be to care MORE about how a drink tastes--isn't that why there are so-called "girly" mixed-drinks that mask the taste of the alcohol?

Arguing connotation

the phrase "man up" has sexist overtones, sure, but it can be and often is used to mean "be adult about it." As in don't be a boy, be a man. It was often used on me to mean "admit your mistakes and take responsibility."

In that light, miller lite is saying, "Stop being so fat, drink our crappy low-calorie beer already."

Hmm...

You know there is an expression without those pesky sexist connotations that means "be adult about it." The nongendered term is "grow up," and since it's a pretty common expression, it seems impossible to me that the use of "man up" could ever be anything other than sexism or an attempt to stifle non-heteronormative expression.

Call me Captain Obvious, but

Call me Captain Obvious, but it seems to me that if this was a message to "be adult about it" - something which is itself a way of manipulating people into doing what you want them to - then the phrase would be "adult up" not "man up" and those on the receiving end would be of both sexes.

Surprisingly i agree with

Surprisingly i agree with most of this article, these ads are a load of anti-male crap.

TERRIBLE Ads...

It makes me wonder who wrote the ad copy...men, women or both? The "man up" phrase always rankles me, too. It reminds me of last fall's election season when female candidates like Nevada's Sharon Angle kept telling her opponent Harry Reid (via the media) to "man up." Fun read, Kelsey!

Yeah, these ads blow chunks but...

I see them as capitalizing on something that is already in the national consciousness - whats-her-face telling her male political opponent to man up; which, in itself, I saw as a ploy to gain national exposure by ensuring a mention on the evening news.

The ad agency simply took that role-reversal to its logical extreme by having the male actors carry stereotypically-female accessories as the visual punchline to being told to man up, i.e., start caring about the taste of your beer.

As a stereotypical male I've gotta say that since living in Germany for 6 years, I'm spoiled for ever drinking American beer - all of it tastes like weak, heavily-watered-down versions of the German stuff.

But that's just me.

Lighten Up

Everyone cool off, im a female and although i admit i find these commercials stupid and pointless suggesting their sexist and/or racist is just silly, Men dont want to be feminine that is what the adds suggest it would be the same thing if a women was in trucker clothes and had chew in her mouth, its not suggesting being female is bad its suggesting straying from your gender is undesirable, Women dont like Womenly men and Men Dont like Manly women, granted their are exceptions generally homosexuals, but thats besides the point. My point being not everything is sexist or racist those of you playing the race card in this argument are even more ridiculous for god sakes lets just get along and not drawing the sex/race card every single time something rubs us the wrong way. Like i said i hate these commercials but this banter annoys me even more, please lighten up and let us get along...

whatttt????

OK. I don't even know where to begin to address the HUGE fallacies in the observations you just attempted to make about sex politics. So, for the sake of simplicity, I'll address it numerically.

1 Who are you to make the statement that straying from your gender is "undesireable"? You are basically admitting that gender roles are not only valid but should be followed outright for fear of being undesired. I don't know what vacuum you live in but women and men exhibit behaviour that are outside of these piece of sht gender roles everyday, not because they are intentionally trying to be outside of your genitalia box, but because gender roles are a cultural imposition and our natural capabilities allow us to adapt to any behavior necessary to survive. Pick up a book.

2 Do you even know any gay people? No gay man I know ever wants another man because of his effeminate traits--hello, he's gay--and as hard as you may find this to believe, not every effeminate man is gay, and wow I cannot believe I actually had to say that. The reality is that even the "manliest" (god I hate that word) man has effeminate tendencies. And that is a fact. Its also true that the science of desire, why we like who we like, is more complex than 'men like women and women like men, but sometimes men like men or women like women.' It combines our upbringing with our desires and behaviors, because believe it or not, just because you sleep with one sex doesn't mean you are attracted to that particular sex. Social forces also drive expressions of desire.

3 Just because a behaviour is typically exhibited by men and because our society discourages this type of behaviour in women does not innately make it a "manly" (shudder) behaviour. Like I said before, gender roles are cultural.

4 Homosexuals are not the exception. I don't even know what you are referring to when you say this but it is such an hollow and unsubstantiated statement that I am disagreeing with it out of principle.

5 Just because you don't take something serious doesn't give you the right to dismiss other perspectives that do take the subject seriously. If it doesn't affect you, fine. But realize that your subjective assessment is not controlling over everyone else. Telling folks to lighten up won't make thrm take it less serious just like it seems that someone explaining to you that gender roles destroy the autonomy of us all doesn't discourage you from believing that despite them, men and women alike should just sht up and get along.

6 You hate meaningful discussion that attempts to probe our anthropological patterns and cultural development?

I find the "man up" ads to be

I find the "man up" ads to be silly, sexist, and in the case of the "skinny jeans" and "speedo" ads, probably homophobic. I don't drink light beer, but I did drink MGD and High Life sometimes. Now, I'm drinking more Pabst Blue Ribbon and Budweiser.

...and, oh yeh, I'm male, and I watch football.

man up, tell the soldiers

What bartender male or female gives a damn what the customer drinks? There goes the tip babe.

I see these as mostly male bashing. Here we are with two wars going on and we are falling back to the old stand-by of ridiculing males in commercials. What, couldn't make a beer spot with a teenager ridiculing his dad? My guess is these spots were written during a writer's strike and rolled out now to save a buck.

No one here would remember the beer commercial with the "I'd rather fight than switch" theme, but it destroyed the brand. Miller Lite is too big to be wrecked by one really bad series of spots, but this series is a good start.

So that's how it is?

Differing opinions are deleted to make room for your pity party over what has to be the most imaginary and inconsequential injustice that can be found on network TV?

Why not discuss the consistent mis-characterization of men on TV? Lifetime has built a network on made up stories of good women being victimized by the evil men in their lives. And you don't have to watch much TV to see middle aged white men used to as the go-to buffoon by hip women and wise minorities. In fact I challenge you to find the inverse in sit-coms or commercials.

Feminists' ability to find offense with everything around them is merely a reflection of their own self-loathing.

Hi Karma Police, Thanks for

Hi Karma Police,
Thanks for reading. I deleted your post. If you'd like thoughtful response to your opinions, which are obviously more than welcome to disagree with ours, the way to do it is NOT to demand that we serve you more chips at the end of your post. You seemed to be coming into this thread purely to taunt, which moves the discussion nowhere.
I entirely agree with you about a chronic misrepresentation of men on mainstream TV, but I think that's a bigger topic than these Miller commercials. Feminism is involved in discussions of sexuality, gender, expression, politics, and a myriad of other topics (like pop culture—what up, Bitch magazine?). These commercials play into tropes of femininity as hugely undesirable, which is a gendered and sexualized message, which puts it smack dab on Bitch's radar. Men can totally wear skirts and be men! They can love their moms! They can wear tight jeans! Kelsey's post points out, as I read it, that commercials loooove to tell men and women both what they can and can't be, and Miller just made their programming more transparent than most. For that, actually, I'm thankful. They basically did our work for us.
I hope you keep reading and commenting on the Bitch blog. This topic is huge, and there is much, much more to be said. Why sell your arguments short and resort to taunting?

I thought the chips were a nice touch

But thanks for your response.

They're all terrible

also, those waitresses/bartenders must not get any tips ever

What I hate about Miller Lite

What I hate about Miller Lite commercials is that each one chooses something or someone to insult and ridicule, as if these "losers" are beneath Miller Lite. The America that I grew up in was the America of individualism, of doing one's own thing, of marching to the beat of your own drummer. Now, according to the commercial, if we see someone in public that is different, we are to insult them and make them feel ashamed. I know I am taking a stupid commercial way too seriously, but I hate that elitist, look-down-your-nose at "those people" that is celebrated in those commercials. I would rather have a bar full of those "losers", being themselves than dull of those bartenders, no matter how hot they are.

man up and don't drink miller

What is manly about drinking a beer that taste like raccoon piss? There is nothing worse than a product which already is crap making annoying sexist commercials.

"Lite"

"Lite" is a trademark of Miller because regular dictionary words like "light" and "beer" cannot be trademarked of themselves, so they made it up.

Kinda like "Band-Aid".

miller sux

Yeah... F%*k you Miller !!! your beer sucks !!! and so do your commercials. And triple hops??? NIce gimmick... real men drink real beer, with real hops. Try three floyds from Munster Indiana... average 6 percent alcohol and real hops. Stop being in denial... you suck !!!!

I think they are all equally

I think they are all equally offensive because they all send the same message: any man who does adhere to his socially constructed gender role will be ridiculed by bitchy, no-nonsense women and policed by "real" men until he re-assimilates.

This has nothing to do with sexism, but I find it kind of funny that along with Miller, Bud and Coors also have these sexist ads with the same "man up" message expressed in different words. It's funny because these three are the shittiest and least manly beers in the world. Seriously, Miller Bud and Coors make Pabst Blue Ribbon seem manly. So since these beers are such shit they overcompensate with these absurd "man up" type commercials. It's sort of analogous to how the guy in the bar/club/party who needs everyone to know loudly how straight he is always turns out to be a self-loathing gay.

Hey all, Very interesting

Hey all,

Very interesting discussion. I have to say, speaking as a guy that loves football, the ad campaign seems to make a lame attempt to manipulate men into social "norms". Advertisers attempt to utilize two critical factors (other men and attractive women) in order to shame a man into making a buying choice. I think this is very uncreative and immoral on the part of advertisers. The issue stems from a battle between personal expression and social acceptance.

One issue I have is the irony of having a hyper masculine "Man -Up" approach to ANY "lite" beer. If one would play up a hyper masculine stereotype wouldn't the product be for a drink like whiskey?

Another issue is the fact that "taste" is being the motivating factor for "manning-up". Seeing as taste is a subjective experience, focusing on that experience is more of a feminine one, which again, takes away from the whole "man up" premise.

I think in an ideal society, people are encouraged to experience life based on their own preferences whether it's gender, racial, or personality)

Thank you Keith, your post

Thank you Keith, your post expressed my thoughts that I hadn't been able to effectively sum up for myself. I dislike the commercials intensely and had a vague notion that I was being insulted or otherwise found the commercials abhorrent.

Are there actually any men that like these commercials? Are there any women that still drink these garbage beers after these commercials? I don't understand how these two garbage beers (I include Budweiser in this group, their commercials are just as stupid) are so popular.

Men aren't manning up

I recently read in Advertizing Ad that Miller is giving up on these commercials. It seems men are buying it.

(stop it)

it is really hard (or alternatively, it makes me want to stop reading) to read this article because of all the poorly placed parenthetical asides (and tangents).

Pork Commercial and Frank Perdue!!

All of you are so right about all of these but check out the Pork commercial that currently being shown. It's shows all these semi-beautiful people in their essences of preparing Pork but are never shown eating it. All these aren't the people who actually eat this meat, which includes the head, eyes, tongue, feet and other unGodly parts. Isn't this false advertising or is showing the actual people who eat this meat to horrible to depict in a commercial? Also, isn't it amazing that Frank Perdue and his son both resemble chickens?

I would personally advice

I would personally advice introducing a phrase "woman up" with a positive connotation, instead of denying men their motivation to be successful and shutting them down into a societal drain ("he's successful! I want to be successful, so I'll make sure he's not successful anymore! Go women, go!").

But clearly, that's the name of this game...