Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Those responsible for beer advertising, please form a line by that wall over there …

From 2003 ...

Television is not a major part of my life. Sporting events constitute the bulk of my otherwise limited time spent in front of the boob tube.

Consequently, I am generally spared heavy exposure to commercial advertising on television, which is just as well, because whenever I see too many of these 30-second testimonials to the decline of the human race, bad things happen within the deepest recesses of my psyche. Pretty soon, I’m heading for the soapbox.

A lengthy exception to my policy of avoiding television occurs each year during the NBA playoffs. Numerous corporate entities sponsor the games, among them sporting wear monoliths, auto manufacturers, cellular phone service providers and fast food restaurant chains.

By its very nature as the sales arm of a mass-market medium, television advertising must be conducted at a very low common denominator, and no one understands this better than an industrial brewer. America’s merchants of swill have long grasped the dynamics of television advertising, especially the connection between these precepts and the typical viewing audience for sporting events. People who watch sports are doltish and male, their scant intelligence begging to be insulted early and often, and demanding that their self-defining brand loyalty be constantly reinforced with references to the wide world of stereotypes and clich├ęs, none of which have even the most remote connection with the actual product being sold.

It is a source of endless fascination for me that I am engaged in the beer business, yet have so little in common with the ethos of beer as it is depicted and touted on the commercial advertisements during basketball games and other sporting events.

My business instincts and practices depend on the dissemination of real information. How is beer made? Where do the various beers originate? What accounts for the myriad of flavors and textures? Why does it taste this way? Not all pub-going patrons are seeking to learn more about beer, but in the end, knowledge is the key to happiness in the craft beer business.

Conversely, America’s industrial brewers do not pretend to provide information during their 30-second commercials, as facts would only confuse the issues at stake. Instead, ad agencies sell beer by using techniques that would be interchangeably appropriate for any product in our consumer society, which is to say that they are selling “lifestyles,” not beer.

According to Pete Coors, his namesake Light is the preferred fuel for men’s night out and testosterone-laced partying. The incredibly talented Auggie Busch IV’s Bud Light is a juggernaut that attracts all planetary life forms and repels most of the brainpower therein. Whether snatched by one of Anheuser-Busch’s ubiquitous critters (most recently, a bird) or inspiring a bored hubby to come to bed for a romp with the missus, Bud Light reduces all comers to blithering idiots, who will do or say anything for the tasteless, odorless liquid within the aluminum-clad delivery device.

Miller Brewing Company, still deservedly reeling from a decade-long slump in creative ad campaign ideas, now positions the once formidable Lite as the ideal swill for 20-something pretty things to swap asinine stories about their clueless hijinks, and Killian’s Red is offered as the perfect beverage for men to drink while they ogle gorgeous women who are in the process of embarrassing themselves in various knee-slapping ways.

The latter is indicative of a trend in the advertising campaigns of the big industrial brewers that I find more disturbing than is usually the case. To be sure, the swill merchants are accustomed to portraying women in a sexist manner, as misogyny plays so well to the mass of clueless males who constitute the core of support for cheap beer, which costs as much as it does only because of the advertising it takes to propel it in a marketplace as saturated as the babes in a beer commercial’s wet t-shirt contest.

Lately, this shopworn practice of utilizing commercial advertising to demean women has been taken to a new level of offensiveness. Females enter the wrong restroom as men smirk, and are sprayed with seltzer-like bottles of Bud by corpulent would-be Casanovas. Port-a-cans with women inside are toppled down a hillside. Girlfriends are told brazen lies by their boyfriends, who had spent the previous evening PARTYING like juvenile delinquents in the company of semi-naked ladies and bottles of ice-cold Coors Liteweight, but can’t bring themselves to admit it when asked.

When it comes right down to it, television advertising by America’s industrial brewers is as insulting to men as it is to women. The only creatures to come away from the ordeal with a shred of dignity intact are the Anheuser—Busch menagerie of animals, whose fondness for Bud can at least be explained as the irrational actions of entities that can’t be expected to know any better.

Human beings are different, right? We have minds and can think, right? Wrong. We just like to PARTY with a cold Coors Light, and those hot chicks on the dance floor drinking Smirnoff Ice and Skye Blue … well, they’re looking like another topic for another time.

1 comment:

paige said...
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