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.
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!