Miller Lite Had Good Intentions With ‘Founding Mothers Of Beer’ Ad, But Missed The Mark

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I’m gonna need y’all to calm down.

On Monday the Internet lost its mind over a Miller Lite advertisement that criticizes the industry for putting the “founding mothers of beer” in bikinis. Because women were the original brewers of beer, the industry should honor — rather than sexualize — them, according to the ad.

And in case you didn’t already see it 475 times on Twitter, here it is:

My immediate reaction was, “Well, that was kind of dumb.”

Not offensive. Not outrageous. Just kind of dumb.

But the video was met with vitriol from pretty much everyone I follow on social media. They called it woke. They called it cringey. Some even called for a boycott — likening Miller Lite’s campaign to the disastrous partnership between Bud Light and TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney.

But I disagree with all of those things.

Crucify me if you want, but I actually appreciate this ad’s intention.

It’s the execution that needs work.

Supporting women is not “woke.”

Comparing this campaign to the Bud Light debacle is unfair. Anheuser-Busch hired a flamboyant female impersonator to represent its brand.

A wannabe woman mocking women.

Miller Lite, on the other hand, is actually helping real women.

They’re collecting old objectifying advertisements, putting them in a compost pile and using them to grow hops. The hops will then be donated to more than 200 female brewers, who will make about 330,000 beers.

On top of that, the company is also going to donate more than five times the amount it spends in buying back the advertisements to support women in their brewing careers.

A real initiative — not just a performative celebration. Refreshing, I think.

And in a world where biological men are actively taking over women’s spaces, how can we be mad at that?

Miller Lite Backlash Is Unwarranted, But Beer Brands Still Struggle To Market To Women

But it’s important to note we can celebrate women without vilifying men.

And that’s where Miller missed the mark.

Rather than emphasizing the good women have done in the industry, the video that went viral Monday took a vindictive, spiteful tone. And it unnecessarily dropped the word “sh-t” more than a dozen times.

So when your advertisement sounds like an attack on men, you can’t really be surprised when men get defensive.

Yeah, Amber! We love women in bikinis!

That’s fine. Just hear me out.

Miller Lite wants to atone for the beer industry’s sexist history.

And what a storied history it is.

Sure, it started with the 1950s magazine spreads — depicting women as subservient dolls who exist to cook dinner for their hard-working husbands and serve them an ice cold Schlitz at the end of the day.

But I’ll give those a pass. Things were just different back then, and I’d like to think we’ve made progress in the last 70 years.

Miller Lite Backlash Is Unwarranted, But Beer Brands Still Struggle To Market To Women

But in modern times, beer marketing has been entirely dismissive of women — from the names and labels of some craft brews to Bud Light’s rapey “Up for Whatever” campaign in 2015.

Miller Lite used its ad to condemn the beer industry’s obsession with bikini-clad models to sell beverages. And I’m kind of with Miller Lite on that one.

Sex sells. Absolutely.

But if you want to sell to women, you’re going to have to come up with something different than just oiled up boobs and butts.

So how should they market to women?

Michael Jordan (and OutKick founder Clay Travis) famously said, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

Well, women buy beer, too.

So while the bikini ads are fine — and probably effective in the male demographic — you can’t blame these brands for attempting to appeal to female audiences as well.

How do they do this? By treating us like normal human beings.

Wild idea, I know.

We have to find the middle ground between the “men are women” ads (Bud Light) and “we hate men” ads (Miller Lite).

Miller Lite Backlash Is Unwarranted, But Beer Brands Still Struggle To Market To Women

And as much as I hate to say it, you know who’s doing a fantastic job of that?

Michelob Ultra.

Yeah, that’s an Anheuser-Busch product. And I am still firmly on that boycott wagon for what they did with Mulvaney. But when it comes to targeting women, no beer does it better than Mich Ultra.

Their ads show normal people doing normal things. It’s simple, it’s relatable, it’s effective.

Despite domestic beer sales declining in 2022, super-premium beers like Michelob Ultra and pro-America Yuengling over-performed.

Not only do Michelob Ultra ads show a healthy mix of everyday men and women, but the brand also puts its money where its mouth is. In 2021, Michelob Ultra pledged $100 million to increase visibility for women’s sports.

Miller Lite Backlash Is Unwarranted, But Beer Brands Still Struggle To Market To Women

And I don’t even need my beer brands to donate to some larger cause. But I do need them to understand I drink as much beer as my husband does.

Miller Lite tried, and that’s why I think the backlash was unwarranted. Still, they can do better.

Stop building marketing campaigns based on identity politics. Stop trying to sell beer to women, trans people, gay people, non-binary people, white people, black people, people in wheelchairs.

Just sell beer to beer drinkers.

Written by Amber Harding

Amber is a Midwestern transplant living in Murfreesboro, TN. She spends most of her time taking pictures of her dog, explaining why real-life situations are exactly like "this one time on South Park," and being disappointed by the Tennessee Volunteers.


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  1. right there with you, amber. when i saw the miller lite commercial, i didn’t see bud light part deux, i saw a company that had a chance to make a good commercial turn it into a so-so commercial.

    ultimately, i reject the notion that objectifying one woman objectifies _all_ women because it doesn’t. similarly, i can dislike dylan mulvaney because he’s an opportunistic hack, but that doesn’t mean i dislike him because he’s trans or that i dislike all trans (i don’t), it means only that i dislike dylan mulvaney. if we stop playing that one-for-all game, woke starts to lose it’s undeserved power…

  2. The reality is the main demographic for beer is men. Men like sexy looking women. Surprise, I know. Miller lite really missed an opportunity here. The first major brand that goes old school with their adds will pick up a lot of customers.

  3. This is a fair and balanced take. I felt the same way when I saw it. It was dumb, but it wasn’t operating in make-believe world where some dude is celebrating a year of “girlhood.” Just a generic swing and a miss.

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