Anybody seen this commercial?

I read about this Miller Lite commercial at Pandagon [original post removed: see this one instead] and wondered if anyone else has seen it:

The entire fake debate about sticking your thumb in the bottle was just an excuse for the next part of the commercial where it was smugly agreed upon that, and I swear to god they said this, “You poke it, you own it.”   And in case you didn’t get the point that this was “cute” sleaziness, they repeated a few times and then declared that poking equals ownership was the new Man Law.

One of the commenters at Amanda’s blog points out:

I’m surprised that no one has pointed out that all those blokes sitting around the “Man Law” table are professional athletes and “old-guard” Hollywood-type figures.

Which is why I’m hoping someone can describe this commercial better for me.   What exactly are they trying to sell here?


  1. scarlett says

    I think this goes back to the argument we were making about Guess Jeans, Philly Cream Cheese and Target that if you have a shithouse product, you need sexist advertising.

  2. scarlett says

    Actually there’s a series of Australian ads for Coke zero which claims men have been emasculated and CZ is their oppurtunity to claim back their masculinity from women who want them to tote around minature poodles and look at wallpaper samples all day. I’ve never found it pasrticularly offensive, maybe because Australians love to take the piss out of things and the series was clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek

  3. Mecha says

    I saw it a few days ago and I don’t get it, and I don’t get how you’d feel it was sexist unless you were already prepared to say, ‘Quick, beer ad, where’s the sex reference? Can’t sell beer without a sex reference!’

    The concept of having to tell people this sort of rule is pretty stupid on its face, although when you think about it sticking your thumb in the neck of a berr bottle sorta falls in the same realm of food etiquette as double dipping, which some people do and don’t realize is an issue. The concept is doubly stupid if you take it as some sort of sexual innuendo. I didn’t even catch it, and seriously, ‘you poke it you own it’? Who’s going to use that phrase in everyday patriarichal activities? Sounds more like a stupid phrase made up by guys on the spur of the moment to me. It’s triply stupid in context of the ads if you read it as an innuendo, as apparently another add in the series establishes that you can date a guy’s girlfriend after 6 months. Maybe if they were trying to innuendo better they could have gone ‘you poke it, you rent it’.

    To me it was just another stupid beer ad from the same class of stunning brilliance that sold beer through the ‘Men of Genius’ and ‘Real American Heroes’ radio ads and talking frogs. Which is faintly amusing as I sit here because the only talking frog that comes to mind is that annoying Crazy Frog thing. 😉

    On another note, I am troubled by analyses on various blogs and comment sections that point out how bad the imagery truly is… and then assume that ‘even though it really doesn’t fit and sucks as some sort of sexual reference it still must have been about women.’ Doesn’t that sound like reaching? Even if ads (especially beer ads) are historically bad at this sort of thing, they can’t all be evil.


  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    I still haven’t seen the commercial – the website doesn’t work in any of the 3 browsers I tried.

    I’m not sure what sounds like “reaching” to you. “Poke” is another slang for “screw”. Just hearing that phrase out of context, my assumption is that what they really wanted to say was “You f— it, you own it.” Given how quickly and thoroughly phrases get separated from their original context, I don’t see it as strange that people are questioning the point.

    It was the comment about it being old Hollywood guard and pro athletes that made me wonder more what’s going on. That made it sound to me like they’re making fun of their own consumers, and I don’t get how that works as an ad campaign. So I’m not sure what the point is, or how I’d take it if I saw it. But “you poke it, you own it” doesn’t really mean much literally: it almost has to be interpreted as a cheeky sexual metaphor.

    And Mecha, I must say I grew up in an area where not only was marital rape not recognized as a crime (in 1978 only 4 states had criminalized it), but the law actually ensured that men had the right to physically hold their wives down and forcibly “poke” them no matter how the wife felt about it, because that’s what marriage meant to some band of legislators from way back when. The problem came when women tried to have their husbands prosecuted for rape, but were told by embarrassed district attorneys the law didn’t allow for it.

    The marital rape laws were eventually updated in 1993. But to this day, you can find websites where men worry that laws against marital rape laws disintegrating the Christian family. To this day, it’s estimated 10-14% of married women are raped by their husbands. To this day, an alarming percentage of men in regions such as the southeast – where a woman is several times more likely to be raped than in any other region of the US – believe “if you poke it, you own it.”

    I can see concern.

  5. scarlett says

    It could also be a reference to something infantile, like you could claim food if you licked/spit on it – I’ll put my grubby hands all over this bottle so no-one else will want it. And I’m not drawing a parallel between ‘violating’ a beer and ‘violating’ a woman so no-one else wants them; it could be nothing more then ‘I’m going to be childish and make sure no-one steals my beer’. Occasionally, it really is just about the product they’re flogging.

  6. Mecha says

    Oookay. Um. First part first, second part second.

    Since you haven’t seen the commercial, it’s basically, ‘Guy wants to bring up issue, visual showing of guy picking up a bunch of beers and poking his finger in one of them to grip it and do so, rest of guys talking about whether that’s cool, stupid phrase comes here.’ I don’t believe women are brought up, or featured, or pictured, or intimated in any explicit sense, from what I remember, and from what I can get without sound on this computer. If I’m misrepresenting, lemme know.

    No, the phrase itself isn’t reaching. Poke is (as far as I know) a relatively unused euphamism for screw. Then again, so is… well, basically any verb, ultimately. Poke, twist, pin, staple, nail, eat, drink… well, anyway. Verbing the noun didn’t come from nowhere, and sexual codewords are a dime a couple-dozen. But that’s… a really stupid phrase. A phrase that isn’t at the center of their ad campaign. If they’re trying to make an overarching statement, they wouldn’t knock their own message away elsewhere (you’d think) and they’d make the connection, uh, in some way. Any way, really. I’d accept even the slightest hint of innuendo beyond verbing the noun. Or a woman appearing anywhere near the commercial. If I missed some, and someone who can see it can point it out, let me know. And I don’t know the point either, except as part of an overarching ad campaign, much like the ‘Real American Heroes’ thing, which just has a common thematic base that ties together a lot of stupid individual premises. Because, as you (and others) say, as a single ad it doesn’t really fly very well.

    Now, the other part. Given that you assume that the commercial is about owning ANYTHING you poke, including women via slang, nevermind that most people would assert that you indeed ‘own’ a piece of food that you bite, or lick, or poke, or any other type of germ/saliva carrying action, then it would be VERY worrisome as a prime-time ad, considering the realities of marital rape and women being treated as posessions. I didn’t… quite feel like I was demeaning that particular concern. I was more not getting how the commerical connected with… well, anything. I didn’t see an effective innuendo, I didn’t see an effective message, I just saw a really stupid catch phrase/punch line. If they were trying to promote a ownership idea, subtly, they FAILED. So, so hard. The Patriarchy should ask for their money back if they backed this one.

    Out of context, if someone just told me that it was about guys saying ‘You poke it you own it’ over and over… maybe with a number of different contextual its, or even two contextual its, I might see it. In-context… I don’t. The only thing that makes it even vaguely patriarichal when watching is if you assume, from the start, that absolutely everything that would ever be in a beer commercial would be about sex. The extension of that is… if a beer commercial mentions ‘popping the top/cap’ as you pull off the top of a beer bottle? Always sex. Popping is a sexual verb. Uncorking a wine? Also means sex. (And in certain contexts, both definitely mean sex.) Any verb you want to use, I’m sure, would always mean sex, _if you assumed it meant sex_. Only context tells you. And the context of this one is a bunch of guys in a glass room (hrm, symbology) talking about how gross it is to drink out of a bottle someone stuck their finger in, and the overarching societal context.

    With that in my mind, it seems to come down to ‘If you assume that every piece of media involving a beer company must be laced with sexual connotations, then it’s a bad commercial.’ Could you make that assumption? You could probably argue it. Patriarichal and societal standards, male-focused add, etc, etc, etc. But it’s a really bad, indirect, and so far detached from its meaning statement that I don’t see how any _guy_ would 1) assume it meant women 2) think, ‘Hey, yeah, women are like beer bottles!’ 3) ‘I didn’t think I owned women before, but now I do!’ The logic train is way, way, way too far for me to believe that a 30 second TV spot would cause anyone to think about it, or even to attempt to subtly reinforce a concept of female ownership. Failed, failed, failed. It’s so bad… I am uncertain why people think they even tried.


  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think the concern is that the catchphrase reinforces an already-held idea. I’ve actually heard redneck men discuss aloud, “How can it be rape now, if she agreed to screw you the first time?”

    Now, what *I* am trying to ascertain is not whether Miller hates women, or whether this catchphrase could inspire bad behavior. What I want to know is: what the hell is this commercial supposed to accomplish?

    I saw one of the other commercials last night, and it was clearly belittling men who drink Miller Lite. So, is this the stupidest ad campaign ever, or is it only the first wave of a campaign that will make more sense once the second wave of commercials comes out?

  8. Mecha says

    On its own, yeah. My issue comes up in that… well, think about the top 100 ad slogan, ‘Just Do It’. I guarantee I could make quite a case of that being a sexist ad, as long as I detach it from the context of the commercials. (And a number of comics and jokes do just that, minus the sexist ad, and plus just plain being a sex joke.) I’m just worried it’s no better a conclusion.

    But if we step aside from that question as you want to… I think it just won’t make good sense. The concept seems to be episodic, like the ‘Real Americna Heroes’ beer commercials which idealized/rewarded ‘manly’ behavior, as well as poked fun at various other kinds of behavior. I just found this site: which has a number of them, at least in text. And these are considered funny/successful commericals by a number of people…

    … so maybe Miller’s doing a similar campaign? A lot of hit or miss ‘man joke’ skits under the same umbrella. It’s also easy to commercialize (see how they have a website for the campaign) and ties into all sorts of subtle (or not so subtle) fears/beliefs that have spawned various male-celebrating/reclaiming shows/commercials. Having a round table about what makes a man while drinking beer is a pretty strong iconic image that I think they’d bank on a bunch of groups of guys doing on their own now and again. And I don’t think they’re in it to compliment their base, just to try to get a half-memorable chuckle. The 18-25 male demographic isn’t well known for their large-scale outrage at beer commercials. 😉

    That’s my take on it. Whole thing’s a wash to me, as I don’t much like beer anyway.


  9. hedonistic says

    Sorry Scarlett, I wish this were just a case of “a cigar is just a cigar,” but Miller would never have coined the phrase if it were not for the double-entendre. Because, really, NO ONE carries their beer by sticking their finger in it. Gross.

    I was up until midnight blogranting on this new ad campaign. The time probably would have been better spent sleeping, but, oh well.

  10. scarlett says

    I’m tending to agree with you on the beer thing – I’m drinking one right now and the idea of claiming owenership by sticking my thumb in it is just repulsive.

  11. Mecha says

    Like I said above. Double dipping is an example of the same class of things, and people do that (and have to be told not to.) So much there’s actually a name for it. Sounds more than possible to me, especially when drunk.


  12. Mecha says

    As a clarification, the ad wasn’t about ‘claiming ownership’ like licking a bunch of food so you get it all. It’s about saying ‘If you do that when carrying a bunch of beer, that one’s yours, ew.’


  13. SunlessNick says

    I wouldn’t be fussed about this if it was touted as a Beer Law – but it’s referred to as a Man Law, which does invite putting “man connotations” onto it.

  14. mariposaman says

    The Man Laws are an obvious attempt at humour by poking a little fun at men. Equating sticking one’s finger in a bottle making it so no one else wants it with promoting marital rape is way too much of a stretch for me.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *