“What if I Were Hanging From a Cliff?”
This is merely the latest, most explicit installment in a theme by the major beer producers to make light of alcoholism. Anheuseur Busch’s Bud Light brand pioneered this tactic a few years ago, but restricted itself to clearly outrageous situations and behaviors – sinking ships, flagrant homocide via defenestration, institutionalized tourettes – but with this promotion, Miller Brewing Company has out done it’s largest competitor. It has truly raised (or, rather, lowered) the bar as to what brewers expect the public to consider unusual and absurd, to include what is actually quite common. Granted, in this latest commercial the essence of what alcoholism is – putting alcohol before one’s most cherished values – is condensed into one extremely explicit and offensive sentiment (thereby making it appear unbelievable), but it still manages to document, artistically, what millions of Miller Light’s consumers already experience.
The purpose of these ads is to distance oneself from responsibility through the use of exageration and satire; and this ad is merely the brewing industry’s latest, most desperate attempt. Viewing these ads creates in the alcoholic viewer’s mind the impression that if his failed high-seas adventure, failed career, and now failed romantic relationship were truly a failure, each would have ended with a dramatic, obvious incident; instead of the slow, seemingly imperceptible (to the inebriated, anyways) disintegration by which each failure actually occured. It helps him to believe that because of a difference in style of delivery – regardless of being absolutely identical in substance – his failure is not actually a failure.
Obviously the assumption Miller is hoping will help it to escape scorn from the thinking segments of the public is that because they – gropingly, indirectly, timidly – have dramatized (and thus addressed) a real-life phenomenon without being pressured to, this means that they are proactively concerned about alcoholism as well. As low as this is as a method to sell a product, the more important question is why are these wealthy, sophisticated corporations and ad agencies resorting to this type of psychological manipulation? Why, in general, is a preemptive willingness to point out the dirty truth about how one actually makes money considered sufficient; in place of actually cleaning up that truth?
The answer has to do with the short-term orientation of so many businesses; brought about by the heavily regulated and highly unpredictable nature of today’s semi-centrally-planned economy. The population is short-term oriented, the political/academic/intelligensia class is short-term oriented. Why wouldn’t the business community – reknowned for their pragmatism – follow suit?