Big hair. Small bathing suits. Cold beer. The outdated tropes of beer advertising are thankfully a thing of the past, but Miller Lite is finding a new use for these old ads.
The brand, which last year honored America’s first woman brewer, has spent the last few months scouring the internet to find old beer ads that objectify women – and buy them back. And it’s working with a team of women to turn those outdated ads – from newspapers and magazines, even large cardboard cutouts – into something positive: composted fertilizer to grow hops that will benefit women brewers.
“Most people don’t know the role women played in brewing history, yet for a long time, the beer industry used women as props to sell beer, Miller Lite included,” says Kelsey Ott, associate marketing manager for Miller Lite. “We’re acknowledging our past, but turning it into something good.”
Today – International Women’s Day – Miller Lite is launching a program it’s calling “Bad $#!T to Good $#!T,” where it’s literally turning those ads into fertilizer for hops that it will donate to women brewers. The bad ads – from brands including Miller Lite and its competitors – will be consumed by worms, whose “$#!t,” as it were, will in turn be given to a woman-owned hop farm, Gooding Farms in Parma, Idaho, to fertilize its upcoming hop harvest.
Through a partnership with the Pink Boots Society, the hops will then be donated to hundreds of women brewers across the U.S. and Canada. Miller Lite also is donating $60,000 to the Pink Boots Society, which supports women brewers with professional and educational opportunities.
The brand has already collected hundreds of pounds of sexist ads and stashed them in a warehouse. It’s now asking legal-age consumers to pitch in with the collection effort. They can visit http://www.millerlite.com/badsht2goodsht for details on how to participate.
“We know without women, there’s no beer.” Ott says. “Miller Lite is here to celebrate the many important accomplishments of women in beer – and many more to come.”
To help make amends for the brewing industry’s history of sexist marketing, Miller Lite is teaming up with actor and comedian Ilana Glazer to help shed light on women’s contributions to beer – including that women were the first brewers in America, a fact the brand celebrated last year with its recognition of Mary Lisle, the first documented woman brewer in the U.S.
“There’s no doubt that women have countless incredible achievements in history, and yet I was both surprised and delighted to learn that they were among the first beer brewers in history,” said Glazer. “After years of treating women like objects, the beer industry at large has an opportunity to shed more light on just how powerful women can be. I’m so excited to have partnered with Miller Lite on this big step in the right direction.”