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Why are people getting mad at a two-month-old Miller Lite ad?

A woman sits with her legs crossed and an aluminum can resting on her knee, with a mannequin dressed in historical garb across from her.
Miller Lite / YouTube

I don’t pay much attention to advertising. Not actively, anyway. So I wasn’t surprised to discover I missed this fairly amusing, fairly creative campaign starring Broad City’s Ilana Glazer that Miller Lite launched back in March:

Not bad, right? Actually, depending on your feelings about beer companies acknowledging misogyny, yes bad.

You may recall that a month or so ago, AB InBev — the beverage behemoth responsible for not-as-good-as-Miller Budweiser products — caught heat for partnering with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. And by “caught heat,” I of course mean boycotts and harassing company executives.

Here’s what Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a statement after one of his colleagues, who helped set up the partnership and we will not name here because she’s been through enough, received death threats and in general had her privacy decimated: “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”

Then it released this ad:

So, back to the Miller Lite situation. If you didn’t actually watch the video at the top of the page, the gist of it is that Miller Lite looked back at the type of advertising it (and the rest of the beer industry) relied on over the years — overly sexualized women in swimsuits and other states of undress — and decided it didn’t look great in hindsight. So Miller Lite started collecting those advertisements and used them to create compost, then gave that compost to women brewers so they could grow hops and other ingredients to make more beer.

Or, to paraphrase the video, turn bad s**t into good s**t.

Like I said at the top, fairly amusing. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. So, two months after that video first landed on YouTube, a Molson Coors executive finds themself as the target of a similar harassment effort seemingly driven by people who felt similarly aggrieved by the Bud Light situation (as reported by outlets like The Guardian and Paste Magazine).

As a means of comparison to the Anheuser-Busch response, this is what Molson Coors chief communications and corporate affairs officer Adam Collins told Newsweek yesterday: "People can take issue with our ads or our brands, but we won't stand by as people personally attack our employees — especially given that these are company decisions, and are never made by one single person.”

Because this is merely an explainer and we strive to keep politics out of things as much as possible, it’s worth noting that online harassment has gotten more severe in recent years (according to Pew Research Center) and often leads to serious mental-health consequences (according to the National Institute of Health).

So, if you choose to “vote with your wallet” in situations like this, godspeed. But, as Radio Milwaukee has inclusivity at its core, I can encourage you to leave it at that, crack open whatever beverage you might decide to purchase and continue with your life. Cheers.