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Objectification of Women in Miller Lite’s “Catfight”
Analysis Paper
Darian Hill 2 May 2016

Darian Hill
MCJ 462
Chris Campbell
2 May 2016

Beer makers have been criticized for “beer and babes” ads that depict women as sexual objects for years. Miller brewing held a TV spot in the 2003 Super Bowl that is quite notorious for its sexual content. The commercial, called “Catfight,” goes from a poolside argument into an angry, clothes-shredding, wrestling match between two women who end up in bras and underwear. The ad was broadcasted to millions of homes during the National Football League’s Super Bowl. Sex and the marketing of beer are virtually inseparable. Nonsexual products, such as beer, are sexualized and convey women as means of advertisement and objects. The purpose of this paper is to inform and show readers how women in advertising are being symbolized as objects of desire and as commodities, rather than human beings. The commercial begins with two women having casual conversation about beer, leading to a fight over why Miller Lite is the better beer. One claims that it is the taste of the beer and the other claims that it is less filling. The verbal struggle erupts into a physical battle between the two women, starting with the brunette flipping the table over. The blonde then punches the brunette, which is followed by the brunette throwing the blonde into a fountain and they fight as they rip each other’s clothes off. Soon down to their bras and underwear, the two continue to wrestle all while moaning. As bystanders stare, the fight moves into a cement pit where the women bump and grind against each other. The commercial then cuts to two men in a bar laughing at what a great commercial the viewer just saw would make. To the side of them, two women are shown with their mouths wide open, offended by what they had just heard. The commercial then cuts to the product, an extreme close up of beer in a glass with the Miller Lite logo on it. One of the men mentions he has a great idea for the ending of their hypothetical commercial, and the scene cuts back to the two fighting women. Now completely wet and covered in cement, they begin to make out. This commercial, like many other beer advertisements, uses women with underlying sexual images to sell its product. The combination of words, sounds and images has tremendous influence on advertisements. It is not the Miller Lite beer that sells itself in “Catfight”, it is the women’s claims and the objectification of the women and their bodies that sells the product. The slogan “tastes great/ less filling” became identifiable to both men and women. Men are led to believe that the consumption of the brand in question will help them attract the types of women shown, while women are led to believe that the consuming of beer will help them look like the women shown and attract men.
In many advertising situations, women are far less likely to be shown as whole characters. New York Times (2016) recently stated, “For years, one of the main criticisms of beer advertising was that it tended to either objectify women or disregard them entirely. Marketers seemed to be too busy trying to appeal to the young male audience they knew would consistently drink beer by the case to worry about anyone else” (Schonbrun). Women are presented as parts and become a visual conglomeration of their legs, breasts, faces and hair. This is evident in “Catfight” when there are continuous close-ups of the women’s bodies and a specific focus on their sexual moans and grunts. Perceiving women as sex objects strips women of their individual identities. These depictions reduce women to be less than because they are not shown as a whole, intelligent person. Instead, women become judged only for their looks and they are viewed as accessories for men.
The beginning of this sexual transition within beer advertising came in the early 2000s. Miller brewing reasoned that beer advertising’s reliance on humorous appeals was not distinguishable, so they thought sex was one way to cut through and be unique (O’Barr 2012). In addition to the widespread use of humor among companies, cultural shifts were happening in forms of media leading to the inclusion of sexual content.
In O’Barr’s Advertising & Society Review it is understood that a major shift happened in advertising. He (2012) states:
Television shows such as ‘Son of the Beach’ and ‘The Man Show,’ magazine such as Maxim and Stuff, and radio shock jock Howard Stern and others were utilizing risqué forms of sexuality that faced not backlash, but often widespread popularity. Society, it seemed, was once again willing to accept something more than funny situations in beer advertising (p. 170).
Miller executives had reason to reconsider advertising techniques due to a decline within the brand of Miller Lite. The company developed a “try anything” strategy that moved towards the inclusion of sexuality in Miller advertising (O’Barr 2012). In reference to media criticism, Miller used semiotics to get a better understanding of how to market their brand. Media Analysis Techniques (Berger 2012) discusses the following:
Semiotics is of great interest to marketers, who use it in an effort to understand the way consumers think and what goes on in their minds when they contemplate purchasing a product or service. Branding has now become a major way in which companies get people to purchase their products. (p. 12)
Indeed, marketers recognized whom their product was directed towards. Sexuality in beer advertising often is directly correlated to the target market of 20-something males who consume more than 25 percent of all beer sold (Chambers 2006). The first major commercial with the inclusion of sexuality came in 2000. Miller Genuine Draft’s advertisement features a woman caught disrobing in a laundry room by a man. At first, there is an awkward moment, as neither knows exactly what to do or say until the man produces a six-pack of Genuine Draft. The commercial closes with the woman tossing her bra into the washing machine as the slogan appears on the screen: ‘Never miss a genuine opportunity’. (Chambers 2006)
This advertisement once again uses sexual content to influence how a male is evoked by false ideals of how a woman is supposed to look and be treated by a male. Advertisements provide a sense of what is desirable and what is normal. For these reasons, the social impact of advertising cannot be overlooked. Miller Lite paved a way of advertising in which the viewer was required to make sexual connections in his or her mind. So, prior to the “Catfight” commercial, Miller Brewing had introduced some sexuality into its brand advertising. In 2002, South African Breweries purchased Miller Brewing, and with this new ownership derived an aggressive push towards sexual imagery (Chambers 2006). The first notable commercial was “Catfight”. Beautiful women drink Miller Lite and debate the reasons to drink this beer. As mentioned before, the two women wrestle in a pool of water tearing off each other’s clothes. When the scene switches to the two men, we realize the fight is actually a fantasy of the two men and the viewers are just as shocked as the “real” women at the bar with these men, who are still fantasizing. As the commercial ends, the scene switches back to the breathless women who decide to unrealistically resolve their differences and make out in a cement pile. From the very beginning, the “Catfight” commercial generated significant attention. The advertisement was replayed on a variety of television shows, sometimes sparking debates and other times creating humor and appreciation. The company concluded that the media coverage exposed the advertisement to possibly 80 million viewers. Due to the buzz, Mille Lite planned several additional commercials.
When describing the sequel commercials Chambers said the first ad that followed was an obvious attempt to balance the sexism and help show the intended humor behind them. It featured a setting like the original with the battling women replaced by men. Instead of fighting, the two men communicate and become supportive of one another. Two women are fantasizing in a bar and praising the good-looking men who are expressing emotion (p. 173). This brings up the idea of double standards between men and women. We each have different sets of principles for similar situations, yet we are equal and have the same capability. In this circumstance, the men in the third commercial are being praised for expressing emotion. Yet, if a woman is expressive with how she feels emotionally she will likely be labeled as dramatic. There needs to be a sense of equality among men and women. In a recent New York Times article written on Hilary Clinton’s speech and debate habits, the double standards are looked at between her and the other men candidates. Chozick (2016) discusses if she were a male giving these “unrelaxed” and “harassing to the ear” speeches would people be criticizing her? The tendency to yell is not gender specific.
The third commercial features the brunette in the original pool scene and one of the fantasizing men from the bar. He makes her chase him into the pool, all while yelling, “tastes great” and “less filling”. She rips off her clothes and to his pleasure, wrestles him. Her breasts are inches from his face at one point. After the obligatory friends in bar scene, the commercial ends with the man coming out of the pool to find a massive man standing over him.
The final commercial features the two original women and Pamela Anderson getting into a pillow ‘catfight’ in a hotel room wearing nothing but undergarments showing multiple shots of their breasts, legs, torso and face (p. 173). This once again puts emphasis on women’s appearances. The women then begin to happily hit and slap each other with pillows while feathers float around the room. The scene switches to the notorious bar scene where the men are left content with their fantasies.
The advertisement series, “Catfight”, catered to every adolescent male fantasy imaginable: attractive, large breasted women willing to fight each other or wrestle with a man over a beer. All of the commercials include a specific setting for sex as well as three women willing to engage. The beer industry’s advertisements create a dominant male beer culture that revolves around partially naked women, sexual acts, and getting intoxicated. This way of marketing creates sex-role and gender stereotypes. Berger (2012) describes stereotypes as generalizations that minimize individual differences and usually become destructive. They are used extensively in the media since they can utilize ideas people have about who is being stereotyped (p. 125). After facing non-stop criticism from consumers, Miller Lite executives made the decision to pull the controversial and provocative “Catfight” campaign commercials. Recently, an age of feminism began and the sexualizing of women in beer advertisements has become less prevalent in our culture. This change in the beer industry led advertising into becoming more acceptable of both genders as a target audience. In the New York Times article, “Beer Ads That Portray Women As Empowered Consumers, Not Eye candy,” Allen Adamson (2016) says:
The fraternity house imagery and sophomoric humor that long defined many beer campaigns has come ‘under siege,’ led by millennials who are more conscientious about male chauvinism. It was fine to show a frat party making fun of girls five or eight years ago, but it’s ineffective and potentially damaging to do today. (Schonbrun)
Beer companies are conducting new campaigns that are gender neutral. Because of current events and changes happening in the world, the distinguishing of gender roles has changed. Marketing has intensely different due to millennials who are “more sensitive than previous generations to marketing that might be considered sexist” (Schonbrun 2016). Millennials’ perceptions have expanded and as feminism and sexuality studies have become apparent, ideas on gender stereotypes and gender identities have altered or disappeared all together for some. Therefore, media and marketing have to adapt and become strategic in ways to appeal to this generation. In Jeff Guo’s Washington Post article (2016), he discusses the changes being made in gender roles among media. Disney princesses, for example have reversed the pattern. In this new age of animated film, for the first time, women and princesses are more likely to be praised for their skills than their looks. Labels are being smashed and society’s labels of “girly” and “manly” are slowly starting to fade. Both females and males are breaking the molds of “womanhood” and “manhood”. Though all these recent ideological changes have happened regarding gender roles, in the world of advertising, sex will continue to be inseparable. Sex is the easy and the effective way to attract attention from consumers, good or bad. Simply put, sex sells. In commercial advertising, especially the beer industry, building a brand is necessary, and in this case sex is the brand. Non-sexual products are sexualized using women. The millennials have a different way of viewing sexual objectifications towards women. If the Miller Lite “Catfight” series were to air now, feminists would argue women’s sex role portrayals in television advertising are not representing equality or reality. The stereotyping of females and their use as sex objects in advertisements has been a topic for a long time. Advertisers have been using and continue to use women as decorative objects for promotional strategies. For instance, many beer companies sexualize women and mainly aim the advertisements at men, hoping to imply a sign of masculinity. The power of advertising influences society. In “Catfight”, stereotyping gender roles affects the way people think of roles of genders in society. Realistically, two women are not going to dramatically fight and strip down to their underwear while wrestling in a pool, but ads target an audience that will associate the Miller Lite brand with beautiful women and a good time. The main problem is women being sexualized. It reinforces the ideas of a patriarchal society where the role of the female is to be arm candy for males. Heavy exposure of degrading and objectifying women is something that cannot be underestimated with today’s power of advertising. Miller Lite does well in advertising their product, but they go about it on a shameful route, representing women only as items instead of beautiful, intelligent, educated and powerful human beings. “Catfight” is 60 seconds of glorifying women physically. Contrary to what many advertisements have society believing, there is more to a woman than her body. The use of female bodies for promotion of products is unnecessary exploitation. Sex is a part of life and not something to be ashamed of or hidden. Men and women are physically beautiful, but when dealing with sexism in advertising, there is a line you can cross that becomes disrespectful and demeaning. Sexist commercials cannot go unnoticed. Advertisers must not confuse sexy with sexist. Sellers relentlessly portray women as hyper sexualized bodies. Even though women have so much more to them than physical appearance, commercials are set out to seduce and entice men.

Works Cited
Berger, A. A. (2012). Media Analysis Technique (4th ed.). Sage Publications, Inc.
Chambers, J. (2006). Taste matters: Bikinis, twins, and catfights in sexually oriented beer advertising. Sex in consumer culture: The erotic content of media and marketing, 159-177.
Chozick, A. (2016, February 4). Hillary Clinton Raises Her Voice, and a Debate Over Speech and Sexism Rages. New York Times . Retrieved from
Guo, J. (2016, January 25). Researchers have found a major problem with ‘The Little Mermaid’ and other Disney movies. The Washington Post. Retrieved from
O'Barr, W. M. (2012). Sexuality, Race, and Ethnicity in Advertising. Advertising & Society Review, 13(3).
Schonbrun, Z. (2016, January 31). Beer Ads That Portray Women As Empowered Consumers, Not Eye Candy. New York Times. Retrieved from

Miller Lite “Catfight” Commercial: 1.09 minutes
Super Bowl Ad, 2003



Girl 1: Doesn’t Miller Lite taste great?

Girl 2: Yeah, but I drink it because it’s less filling.


Girl 1: (Slams bottle down) Great taste!

Girl 2: (Slams bottle down) Less filling!

Girl 1: Great taste!

Girl 2: Less filling!



Guy 1: Aw man now that would make a great commercial.

Guy 2: Who wouldn’t want to watch that?


Narrator: Life is best told over a great tasting Miller Lite. At a place called Miller Time.

Guy 1: I have a great idea for the ending.


Girl 2: Let’s make out.


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