The Rise Of The Man-Hating Beer Ad
1:35 pm, April 6th | by Amy Tennery
But while most of our advert concerns are of the “Why Doesn’t That Lady Have Any Clothes?” variety, we couldn’t help but notice a weird and pervasive new trend that’s targeting guys.
We’ll call it the “Are You Sure You’re A Dude?” phenomenon.
“Are You Sure You’re A Dude?” ads (or, AYSYADs… or rusureyeradoods?) prescribe a specific set of rules for what does and doesn’t make you a guy — and you’d better live up to those rules. In this world being a dude is something that can be revoked.
Nowhere is this better displayed than in the evolution of beer ads, which have gone from “You’re a guy!” to “… Are you sure you’re a guy?”
Wait — a beer ad that insults guys? Yes, believe it. Take, for instance, the infernal Miller Lite “Maaaaaan UP” ads, which I’d blow off more, were it not for the fact that (shortly after their debut) a show titled (yep) “Man Up” premiered:
Are You Sure You’re A Dude?!
Compare Miller Lite’s recent effort to this 1984 Old Milwaukee ad:
In all fairness, Old Milwaukee has a multi-decade tradition of terrific ads. But you see my point.
The fantastic Current TV series “Modern Lady” also noticed the start of these AYSYADs — while pointing out that these included more than a little bit of ladyhate. When your manhood is questioned by a company with the creative faculties common to a pack of magpies, it makes you a bit testy (heh):
Of course, basing a sociological study on beer ads is a little weird. But we’re hardly the first to recognize them as a barometer for modern masculinity. And, truth be told, it’s not just the beer ads that have started following this trend in the last couple years. As Cracked noted in its list of the worst male-geared advertising offenders, a recent Ford ad points out that your current, non-Ford vehicle lacks cojones (and, by extension, you do too):
And now the AYSYAD mentality has seeped into the medical community.
Take, for instance, the new “Is It LowT?” (Are You Sure You’re A Dude?) campaign from Abbott Laboratories. The campaign, which Dr. Craig Bowron covered for Slate, is bent on instilling a sense of paranoia among men over their possible lack of testosterone — “a hormone so sacred that it cannot be named,” Bowron jokes.
Abbott’s site for “LowT” presents a baffling quiz of vague questions to determine whether you’re lacking in the “T” department.
Questions like “are you sad or grumpy” or “have you noticed a recent deterioration in your ability to play sports” are enough cause for concern, according to Abbott’s standards — of course, as Bowron notes, these are also normal occurrences for men as they age. Even more disturbing, Bowron argues, is that the treatment for “Low T” “has unproven benefits and real safety concerns.” Suddenly, ASYSAD isn’t so funny anymore.
But is “LowT” the latest manifestation of a overarching cultural trend or just a pharma company inducing a little medical fear to make a buck? The Jane Dough turned to Bowron for answers. And, interestingly enough, he said the testosterone crisis comes back to the economy — and jobs.
“WIth the Agrarian Age behind us, where manual labor defined a ‘man’s job,’ it’s no longer clear what constitutes a manly man in the Age of the Desk Job,” Bowron told us, adding that it’s “no surprise” that “marketers are more than willing to exploit” the ever-lasting quest to retain “sexy” masculinity. So beer companies have the chance to redefine what it means to be a guy.
And it’s not difficult to see why this would be a problem for women, too. Not to get too heavy here, but prescribed binary gender roles don’t work out well for anyone.
The solution, however, is clear: We all need to drink more Old Milwaukee. Problem solved.