When analyzing beer or alcohol advertisements, there are oftentimes complex gender dynamics functioning to create meaning. Frequently they focus on the female humiliation of the male by playing on male insecurities and the desire of the “hot chick.” While this is not true of all beer ads, in “The Male Consumer as Loser: Beer and Liquor Ads in Mega Sports Media Events,” Michael A. Messner and Jeffrey Montez de Oca introduce four overarching themes that can be useful in analyzing many commercials. They have labeled these themes as losers, buddies, hotties, and bitches, which are evident in the 2010 Miller Lite “Man Up” commercial.

In this particular commercial, a man approaches a good looking female bartender and asks her for a light beer. When she asks him if he cares how it tastes, he replies that he doesn’t and she gives him a generic light beer. She then says, “When you start caring, put down your purse and I’ll give you a Miller Lite.” He replies that the bag he is carrying is in fact a “carryall,” not a purse. He then walks away in humiliation to join his friends at a table. Within this ad, two of Messner and Montez’s themes, losers and hotties automatically stick out.  By definition, losers are individual men at risk of being publicly humiliated, as is the lone man in this Miller Lite commercial. The bartender is the “hottie” whose, “validating power also holds the potential to humiliate male losers” (Messner 1887). When the “hottie” bartender calls the man out for his “purse” she is questioning his masculinity and publicly making him feel like a “loser.”

After watching the commercial more closely, the third theme of “buddies” occurs at the very end when the man is sitting at a table with a few of his friends.  This theme is in reference to a man within the “safety of the male group” (Messner 1887). Basically, when a man is with his friends he automatically feels more emotionally safe, comfortable, and is less likely to be humiliated. In the Miller Lite commercial, after the man has been drinking with his friends, he has the courage to go back up to the bar for a Miller Lite. His friend cracks a final joke that he will watch the man’s purse for him as he gets up to get another beer. In this particular commercial, the fourth theme of “bitches” is not evident, but can be seen in many other commercials. The term bitches is in reference to any woman that a man is emotionally tied to, such as a girlfriend or wife. Usually these women are seen as annoyances and take away the freedom of the males.

In regards to this commercial, Miller Lite is being portrayed as a very masculine beer; evidently, a man that carries a “purse” isn’t manly enough to drink it and furthermore, his masculinity is criticized by a beautiful woman. Usually these dominant gender themes are portrayed in commercials in a humorous way, as it is in the Miller Lite commercial, which allows the stereotypical gender roles to not be taken too seriously by the audience. They are to be viewed simply as entertaining. Regardless of whether it is humorous or not, these commercials are propagating certain ideas or behaviors that construct what men and women conceive as “normal,” all the while associating their brand with a certain consumer and a certain lifestyle.

Brittany Welch

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