of beer and advertising the proletarian revolution, or, workers of the world, you have nothing to lose but your hangovers!
In CR #301, we explored the spate of new commercials that almost instantaneously incorporated the current economic crisis into their advertising. These commercials — for fast food, cars, and even for financial investment products (!) — seek to absorb the anxieties of the current crisis into the fantastical dreamworld of consumerism.
Perhaps the most fascinating recent advertising campaign of this type is the Miller High Life “Delivery Guy” series, which features a delivery man re-appropriating bottles of Miller High Life from elites who are out of touch with the common man. The beer is taken back from a luxury box at a sporting event, from the fancy-hats crowd at a Kentucky Derby-like race, and from the hip elites behind the velvet rope and bouncer at a nightclub.
The message of the ads, delivered by a working-class delivery guy, is a strangely sublimated version of disaccumulation, of redistributing private property from the top to the bottom. But instead of smashing the state, or smashing the machines of capitalist alienation, here proletarian revolution is merely bottled and redistributed in a consumer fantasy of working-class reappropriation.
As such, the advertisements speak in the realm of leisure (and of beer, which has a long history of involvement in class struggles — just think of all those German socialists in the 19th century U.S.) to class resentments and fantasies of class resistance. So too, the ads keep those feelings and ideas bottled up and puts them on ice, then pours them out into humor and intoxication rather than actual revolution.
The true high life remains for some, but not for all.
Miller High Life “Delivery Guy” Ad Campaign