Greatness. Define it however you damn well please, but tell me, can it be sensed? I’m not talking philosophically or attempting to expand your mind to accept the unacceptable. I’m talking about plain old senses. Can you touch it? Can you see it? Does it have mass, substance, volume? I’m talking about a word here, a descriptor. Greatness. A word, nothing more than a word that’s used in conjunction with other words. So tell me, can you taste a word? Can you taste a descriptor like greatness? No dammit! NO YOU CAN NOT TASTE GREATNESS!. So why then, while I’m sitting on my couch trying to enjoy the “Greatness” that is American Football, am I bombarded with Miller Lite commercials telling me to TASTE GREATNESS? God dammit Miller, you’ve done it again!
Trust me, I’m the only one on this site that will ever defend MillerCoors or their ilk. I slam down many a High Life throughout the Summer and make no excuses about buying other macro lagers when the time is right. They serve their purpose for this here Alehead and that’s fine with me. Yes, I get the corporate greed thing, the tendency to throw money at local brewers only to dissolve their brands. It’s business, and while I don’t condone the behavior I certainly understand the need to make a buck at the expense of others. Fuck me, so what. I also tend to defend crafty advertising. If Budweiser wants to put clydesdales on TV and this helps to sell their brand, so be it. They’re not lying about what they are, they’re just being weird and hoping you drop some coin on their swill. What I do take offense to is attempts at crafty advertising that are just way off base and completely false. Again, TASTE GREATNESS. What the hell is that?
I’ve watched roughly 10 Miller Lite commercials in the past hour and even got the pleasure of listening to a couple of radio spots on the way home. Here’s what I picked up:
- Miller Lite is Triple Hops Brewed. Yes, we’ve gone over this, whatever. It’s stupid, it makes no sense for the type of beer they’re putting out, and the targeted end consumer has no idea what it means. Trust me, if I told light beer drinkers that their beer now makes use of bittering, flavoring, and aroma hops additions or even mentioned the word hop at all, they’d probably switch brands. Again, this is fucking stupid
- Great Beer. I actually have no problem with this. What are they gonna say, “Kinda shitty beer, but we know you like it, so why not give us some more of your hard-earned money”. You’re a corporation, tell everyone you’re great. That’s your job
- Make the Right Choice – Choose on Taste. OK, here’s where I’m starting to get annoyed. Yes, your consumers should want to think they’re making the right choice, but are they really choosing on taste? I think they’re actually choosing based on a lack of taste. That’s OK by the way. Miller Lite is devoid of taste. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t sell as well as it does. Find a way to celebrate that.
- Great Pilsner Taste. Are you sure? First of all, 99% of Miller Lite drinkers don’t know what a Pilsner tastes like. In fact, there’s probably a good amount of our regular readers that couldn’t pick a Pilsner out of a lineup of lighter lagers. That’s OK. What’s not OK is that this beer does not have a great Pilsner taste, simply because it doesn’t taste like a Pilsner (Uh, maybe because it’s not) I’ll expound on that in a minute.
- If You’re Choosing a Light Beer on Taste, You Need to Man Up. Well, I still don’t think anyone is choosing a light beer on taste but I’ll let this one slide. I suppose, hypothetically, that given the choice of light beers someone may grab a Miller Lite because they think it tastes better. Fine, I caved. That said, do they need to man up? I’m guessing no, because that doesn’t make sense. Although, as Brother Barley has explained before, Miller Lite is only intended for “Manly Men” and really might be too volatile for women or members of our homosexual community. Apparently you need to man up.
- Known for its Inherent Quality of Great Taste. This one is actually off of their corporate site but it fits here. If a quality is inherent, it’s something that’s permanent, unchanging. If Miller were to say that their company exudes inherent quality control, I might buy it (I actually do buy that since no one would ever criticize their consistency). Taste, on the other hand, is subjective. I think Miller Lite taste like dog shit, but that’s my opinion since I happen to like things that taste good and just have to assume that I wouldn’t like the taste of canine feces. That’s just me though. Others may actually like that flavor spectrum. Great taste isn’t inherent because taste is subjective. Also, it doesn’t take a marketing genius to tell their boss, “You know what quality Miller Lite has? It tastes great!” That’s just plain dumb.
I’m probably being a little redundant with some of the bullets since we’ve beaten their marketing campaigns to death. What I’m trying to get at is that they seem to be force-feeding marketing to a consumer that really doesn’t need it. Take Bud for example. Say what you want about InBev and their Budweiser brand, but at least they’re not hiding from what they are. Bud is an adjunct lager and they never hide from that, even making statements on their labels and websites showing that they use rice along with the other traditional beer ingredients. Miller Lite is an adjunct lager too, but they want you to think that they’re some crazy, crafty brewer using “Triple Hops” to brew up a traditional old world Pilsner. It’s a fucking adjunct lager – Water, some malted barley, some corn/wheat/rice, yeast, and lots more corn. So what, you’re an adjunct lager! Why hide from that? If you really think your consumers are choosing Miller Lite based on taste, why feed them nonsense about brewing practices and quality?
Here’s the best part though. Me, you, anyone else reading this post today, we all know Miller Lite is a terrible beer. Same as I know that Miller High Life is a terrible beer, even though I buy it and enjoy it all the same. I’m not the target audience though, and neither are you. Here’s a good example. According to the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program for those that don’t know), Miller Lite naturally falls under the Lite American Lager Category. Here’s some paraphrased takeaways that highlight this beer category:
- Little to no hop aroma, sweet or corn-like
- Very light body from heavy use of adjuncts
- Strong flavors are a fault
- “Designed to appeal to the broadest range of the general public as possible”
Wow, that describes Miller Lite perfectly. No wonder why they’ve taken home several medals at the GABF for the American-Style Lager or Light Lager category (Look at the beers there and this category pretty much mirrors the BJCP definition). Strong flavors are a fault, designed to appeal to broad audience. In other words, Plain Jane. Why is that a bad thing though? Again, if Miller Lite had taste, flavor, body, it wouldn’t sell. Wait, let me recap for just one second because I’m starting to make sense. Miller Lite tells the consumer that they won their category at the GABF. They won the category because their beer had no flavor, no hop aroma, and appealed to the every-man. They’re crowned champion because of these attributes, they tell everyone they won, yet they market the beer as having great taste, triple hops, and a man’s man beer. You know why they do this? Because their valued consumer understands words like “Won”, “Award”, “Gold Medal”, but they’re also too lazy to go look up what the fuck the Great American Beer Festival is. International Wold Beer Cup, North American Beer Games, Special Bi-Annual Beer Tasting Olympiad – Just throw out buzz words, tell everyone you won, and they’re hooked.
I’ll leave you with this. I believe in truth in advertising, but I also belive in tact and the value of spinning a good message to the consumer. There are lots of shitty products on the market. I don’t expect marketing execs to send a message that their products suck but you should buy them anyway. Miller Lite has a good product. I mean, it tastes like shit, it’s made from shitty ingredients, and it’s an abomination of a beer, but from a business standpoint it’s a good product. P&L statements don’t care about taste and greatness, they care about dollars and volume. There’s no need for Miller Lite to try to convince their consumers that their beer has superior taste and true Pilsner qualities. Just sell it for what it is – A beer that has the flavor that the consumer wants in an affordable and catchy package. Don’t tell them they’ll TASTE GREATNESS. That’s just bullshit. With that, I’m reminded of one of my favorite obscure movies starring the incomparable Jim Belushi – Taking Care of Business
Belushi’s character, Jimmy Dworski, is an escaped jailbird trying to see his Cubs win the World Series. One thing leads to another and he plays a little switcheroo with a high-powered Ad-Exec, eventually filling in to land the lucrative High Quality Foods account. Here’s their current slogan:
High Quality Foods – The Best There Is
Mr. Sakamoto, wanting a new honest campaign for his company, asks Jimmy for an honest opinion.
Jimmy – Honestly?
I think your oatmeal sucks. Nobody likes it. It tastes like dirt – Chewy dirt.
Your bologna tastes like rubber. You have to smother it with mustard, so you don’t taste it.
But not your mustard, ’cause your mustard tastes like shit.
Your frosted flakes have half the sugar that Tony the Tiger’s does.
And your bread just rips apart. Just try spreading peanut butter on it…right in your hands
Not your peanut butter, ’cause it sucks
See, Jimmy gives an honest opinion. He says he knows the ad campaign, eats their products everyday, but he tells it like it is. When asked if there’s anything he does like he says, “Your potato chips are pretty good, but then again I like greasy food” The dude’s poor. He buys High Quality Foods because, as he says, “It’s not bad that you sell cheap stuff”. He suggests changing the name to Low Quality Foods, but really he just wants the company to give a truthful ad campaign. Change it from “The Best There Is” to something that extols the virtues of affordability, quality for the price, and a good option that everyone deserves.
It’s not bad that MilerCoors sells an award-winning adjunct lager in Miller Lite. It’s got everything that many, many people want in a beer. Lower alcohol, low calories, low taste – Simplicity at its best. Just quit throwing out these claims that you’re this amazing brewhouse that’s creating a revolutionary product that only “Real Beer Drinkers” want to drink. Yes, you were revolutionary back in the 70’s when you practically created the light beer market. Hang your hat on that, just don’t lie and try manipulate your customers. Relax, they’re going to buy your beer anyway.