Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Maybe Miller could post yellow stars on the door so that they could tell the difference.

I’m so old that I can remember a time when Pabst Blue Ribbon genuinely was a workingman’s beer, while at the same time, Miller “Champagne of Beer” High Life sought to convey a more upscale image, albeit at a price point only pennies higher than PBR.

Having long ago cannibalized High Life in order to seize the MGD demographic, the spin doctors tending to the shareholders atop the SABMiller multi-national penthouse have since busied themselves repositioning Miller High Life as an icon of numbed-down populism, and that’s ironic, since Pabst has become the hands-down favorite beer of people with money who should know better but choose today’s emasculated PBR for the very same reason that Che Guevara’s bearded visage stares out from their wristwatches.

If Miller’s latest television protagonist weren’t African-American, he might serve as body double for Ed Anger of the late and lamented Weekly World News, one eyebrow jauntily cocked as he rages at the villainy of snooty bistros and the corporate poseurs at Whole Foods, both of which are guilty of daring to vend the common man’s High Life alongside overpriced burgers, watermelon martinis and imitation tofu milkshakes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s heartening in a way vaguely reminiscent of Erin Brockovich that humble beer truck drivers are trained by SABMiller to enforce an ideological purge of uppity establishments, but what baffles me is how the captive bottles of Miller High Life ever came to be languishing in such trendy, upscale wastelands in the first place.

Isn’t it true that the very same wholesalers now dispatching these blue-collar superheroes to rectify crucial stocking issues previously sent salespersons to the very same establishments to collect orders for the very same cases of beer?

If not, then how did these places procure their stocks? The black market?

When the truck driver reclaims the wayward cases of High Life, are refunds being issued? Isn’t he actually undoing the handiwork of a yet another poor schmuck who accepted the initial order? What of the commission, or in this case, the ransom? Couldn't the salesperson be issued with a list of characteristics to help judge the customer so as to ensure that Miller High Life reaches the proper segment of the marketplace?

Oops, ‘scuse me. I forgot that drinking, not thinking, is the final goal here.

Today’s discussion questions:

Why do mass-market breweries express open contempt for their target constituencies?

Worse yet, why do the target constituencies forever acquiesce in being insulted?


Iamhoosier said...

You got it right:

"Oops, ‘scuse me. I forgot that drinking, not thinking, is the final goal here."

It's a commercial, for Buddha's sake. It's not a lecture hall or even the Red Room at the pub. I know your passion but you may be stretching it here a little.

Brendan said...

Long time reader, first time commenter.
I disagree, with the hoosier. Beer is an important product, and what the manufacturers of said mass produced product say about their customer base is indicative of popular opinions. You know that their ad agencies spend millions on focus groups before a campaign is allowed to run. Even before the focus groups get a crack the guys in the front office spend months slicing and dicing market research reports to come up with a target demographic region by region. So, when companies like Miller recognize that their preferred customer for High Life is someone who is intimidated by nice things, intellectuals and good food, they are telling an audience they have spent a lot of money to identify, exactly what it wants to hear.

The question at hand was what does it say when Miller has open contempt for its client base? Well, Miller chose that client base, it has to lie with it. They chose a client base who feel marginalized by all the changes in jobs, life and politics. So they tap into the resentment they feel with some downward-comparison-crap about a mythical group of elites. If they wanted to knock a group of people down to size, who deserve it, they should have targetted private equity corporations and hedge fund managers. Those punks need to be hosed.

Iamhoosier said...

Disagreement, Brendan, is a good thing. As long as we all keep talking, probably we will all keep learning.

Roger, on a completely different topic, recently asked, "Do they not understand satire?". (Or at least something close to that) That is how I view these commercials. NABC's advertising and labeling approach, while on a higher "thinking" level, has been similar.

I know the Curmudgeon fairly well and he has taught me a lot about beer. I, in turn, try to explain "real" life to him!(VBG)

yournamehere said...

I laughed the first time I saw the commercials (Of course, they don't really survive repeated viewings). Nothing, however, will get me to buy a Miller High Life.

Matthew D Dunn said...

I don't have TV so I haven't seen these so called commercials yet. However, HAZZAH! to you Roger Baylor. Give 'em hell.

See you at the Big Red Fest tonight?

Probably not...