I Can’t Watch the New Miller Lite Ad

louisville beer - miller lite bottle

Just look at those curves. You see, it right?

Corporate beer commercials have always (mostly) been pretty annoying, from Spuds MacKenzie right on up to the Coors Light train (whatever that thing is called) spots.

And as you know, the latest round of Miller 64 commercials is just a rip-off of the Popeye theme song. That’s a whole other level of annoying.

But for some reason, the new Miller Lite ad is really getting on my nerves. It makes me twitch. And I’ve gotten to the point now where I instantly change the channel when it comes on, just like I have done when faced with a teaser for that Honey Boo Boo nonsense.

I’m sure you’ve seen the ad, but if not, here’s the scene: Four young guys, out on the town at a really swanky bowling alley (?), spot a roller-skating (?) waitress across the room carrying a single Miller Lite bottle on a round tray, and thus begins a dialogue, rich with subtext and nuance, which goes something like this:

“Do you see what I see?”

“I already saw it?”

“Do I see what you see?”

“Saw, seen, seeing.”

“I saw what I think I see. Do you see?”

“I am pretending I saw it, but I don’t see it.”

“You people are f*cking stupid.” (Clarification: That was me in my living room, not someone in the commercial.)

At that point, or thereabouts, the super-hot waitress (at least they got that part right) appears in front of them with a tray that now mysteriously has FOUR (?) curvy new bottles of Miller Lite, and she says … well, I’m not sure what she says, as I’ve never been able to watch that part. I always change the channel first.

Cunningly, Miller Lite’s marketing geniuses have chosen to avoid getting into the “vented can” war with Bud Light and Coors Light. Instead, Miller Lite is focusing on the delicious, triple-hopped product it sells to consumers.

I’m kidding; actually, it is focused on the shape of the bottle, which is just another way to avoid talking about what’s inside it. Makes me miss the days of “Tastes Great/Less Filling” – at least then they were just calling it like they saw it, and letting the consumer decide whether he or she could stomach the flavor. I guess that approach – along with that vortex neck thing – is out of vogue. Why? Here’s why, via a press release straight from the horse’s … er, mouth:

Inspired by form and design, the modern look of the new bottle offers broad shoulders and a contoured grip, intended for easy handling from the bar to the pool table. The bottle defies the convention of the standard cylinder-shaped bottle, helping Miller Lite stand out among the brown bottle sameness of other light beers.

“Miller Lite is giving beer lovers a long-overdue reinvented look and drinking experience with the breakthrough new bottle design,” said Ryan Reis, senior director of Miller Lite, via the same press release. “In our testing, consumers overwhelmingly preferred the new bottle to the standard beer bottle. We’re proud of the new design and we’re excited to see how everyone reacts to our new look. This time when you grab a Miller Lite, you’ll know it.”

I mean, yeah, the fizzy yellow stuff inside still tastes like socks, but by god, that bottle sure does feel good in your hand. Excuse me. I need to go scream into a pillow.

Light American Swill: Is it Truly the Devil?

louisville beer - mini miller high life

Thanks, Dad!

Full disclosure: Sometimes I drink Miller Lite. In fact, I drink it fairly often. I’m not necessarily proud of this, but I also am not ashamed to openly admit it.

Before I sound apologetic, know that I’m not. The metaphor I use is this: Light domestic swill is to beer as Taco Bell is to Mexican food. Even though deep down I know it constitutes corporate badness (and it is generally kind of gross and cheap-tasting), I still like it for reasons much different than my reasons for liking good beer or real Mexican food.

For my taste, having a craft beer is an experience in itself; it’s something I actually like to focus on while I’m experiencing it. But if I’m watching a Packers game with my buddies at Buffalo Wild Wings, I’d prefer to just drink the ice-cold swill rather than pay nine bucks for a Sam Adams.

Many years ago, I told New Albanian Brewing Company‘s Roger Baylor (the king of local fascist-killers) that I tended to think of Miller Lite as “beer soda.” He probably doesn’t remember this, but his response has always stuck with me. He said, “I think I’d rather just drink soda.”

His point was well taken, and still is.

But I actually think my fondness for the light stuff is the by-product of emotional attachment. My grandfather always had beer around, and it was usually Pabst Blue Ribbon (which I still drink occasionally). My dad also kept beer in the fridge, and it was (and still is) usually Miller High Life. I began begging for tastes of the stuff when I was probably no older than 5 or 6. To me, that fizzy yellow stuff was just what beer was.

Fast forward to age 10 or 11, when I took on the task of mowing the lawn. My dad stocked the fridge with the little 7-ounce High Life bottles back in those days (with the occasional foray into Lowenbrau or Little Kings), and often my reward for winning the battle with the front and back grass on a hot August day was my very own mini-sized bottle of cold beer.

Come on, what makes an 11-year-old boy feel like a man more than giving him his own freaking beer? (Remember, we’re talking pre-puberty here; the Farrah Fawcett poster came later.) But my beer puberty, if you will, really hit me when Bluegrass Brewing Company and, to a lesser extent, the Silo Brewpub opened their doors. That’s when I grew up and came to truly appreciate the difference between beer and what I had come to know as beer. (Thank you, Dave Pierce.)

No one has to preach to me about the evils of Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, etc. I get it. They are the Wal-Marts of beer. They are the major-label, Auto-Tuned pop bands of beer. They would happily squash every microbrewery on the face of the planet and force us all to suck fizzy piss-water from their teats of corporate greed, if only they could.

But they can’t; if it was possible to force free-thinking people to  have absolutely no taste, we’d all be puckered up and going at it relentlessly right now. Instead, I’m planning to schedule a brewpub tour with my girlfriend and you’re reading a blog post about beer appreciation. Cheers to beer.