A Decade of Beer Ads: The 1970’s

20 12 2009

Today is the third of a series of posts where we will hastily derive sociological statements about American Beer Culture through beer advertisements found on YouTube.

America in the 1970’s: A Fractured Society– After the 1960’s, America was divided. Over issues like the war in Vietnam, civil rights for people of color and women, and Watergate, America was a society of different interest groups. The rise of identity politics became popular in American popular culture and with a recession in full swing, American corporations moved in quickly to exploit these tensions.

This was especially true for American beer companies. Nearly all the American breweries were wiped out during Prohibition. What survived were either regional beers or mega breweries. Beers that hoped to survive in the growing beer market of the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s had to play on their different niches.

Miller tried to reign in the working class market as an affordable beer for after a hard day’s work.

Miller was the beer for hard working men who do the work no one else wants to do. “Miller Time” became synonymous with the end of a hard day’s work.

Counter those Miller ads with this one from Olympia.

Much like the hippie ad from last week, Olympia hung its hat with the younger generation. Notice the artistic feel of this ad with the natural scenes, the young people enjoying eachother’s time and the “Pet Sounds” era-Beach-Boys-inspired harmonies.

Or this series of Olympia ads:

The first ad shows an integrated group of young people doing very fun and energetic activities while a folk singer gives praises to the delicious beer. The other ads end with a note that all their bottles and cans are recyclable. Here is a case in which the company intentionally inserts itself into the budding environmentalist movement.

With the end of Vietnam in failure, America found a renewed obsession with masculinity. Here we see an Old Milwaukee Beer ad where lumber jacks compete, razz each other, and drink beer.

On the other hand, Michelob tried to cash into the women’s liberation movement by promoting a smaller (7oz.) bottle of beer to women. In this ad below, we see a young woman returning from work in a business suit. She says that she is “like a lot women” and wants a beer just right for her. In an interesting switch up to most beer ads, no men are present in this ad (although one is implied at the end). For this woman, she can have it all: a career, a man, and a beer.

Pabst created a funky ad to appeal to a more “urban” demographic. While still an integrated ad, Pabst continued to be on the forefront of having black folks in their ads.

And Schlitz calls back to one of their ads from a decade earlier by placing their beer in a disco. Schlitz is the beer for staying up all night and dancing with your friends.

While all the other beers were scrambling to create their own niches. One beer chose to unite rather than divide. After all, why compete for a small segment of the population, when you can fight to have all of it. Just look of this rainbow coalition of Americans, overlooking their differences to sing the praises of Budweiser–the King of Beers.