WOODRIDGE, IL—Old Milwaukee beer announced Friday the launch of a new series of commercials featuring a group of friends despondently contemplating suicide while drinking the alcoholic beverage and sitting in darkened apartments.
According to company spokesperson Jim Sloman, the ads are intended to reflect the experience of a large segment of the Old Milwaukee customer base, namely those for whom the daily indignities and humiliations of life have almost become too much to bear, and who increasingly see no solution other than killing themselves.
"We're confident consumers of Old Milwaukee will strongly relate to these drunk, hopeless, broken down men joylessly downing beer after beer while listlessly watching television and discussing in flat monotones whether there's any compelling reason why they shouldn't just end it all," Sloman said following a screening of a TV spot in which a pale, sunken-eyed man opens his ninth Old Milwaukee, stares at it blankly, and then puts it down untouched after realizing that nothing is helping. "Extensive market research has shown these scenes are quite authentic in terms of how a great number of Americans enjoy the crisp, delicious taste of Old Milwaukee beer."
Sloman said the commercials will have elements of continuity tying them together in a loose narrative, including a character named Randall who, irrespective of anything else being said in the commercial or whether anyone is even listening to him, only looks at the floor and says, "Erica…Erica…where did it all go wrong?" Additionally, one or more characters will end each ad by offhandedly muttering Old Milwaukee's new slogan, "Honestly, what's the fucking point?"
One of the more conceptual commercials in the campaign simultaneously shows the four friends alone in their respective homes, with each engaged in a different activity: One puts a gun in his mouth for a full 10 seconds before removing it, burying his head in his hands, and sobbing loudly; another tries to masturbate but is unable to achieve an erection; and the remaining two characters whisper prayers to God to please just kill them and end the suffering.
"I imagine these spots will have a lot of Old Milwaukee drinkers thinking, 'Hey! How did you guys get a camera into my house?'" said Sloman, who along with the assembled reporters erupted into laughter.
According to a press release, the commercials will run on network and basic cable television between the hours of 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., when members of the target demographic are typically thinking about going out to their garages and running their cars until they die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
"We're planning some really fun tie-ins with the new campaign," advertising director Jill Eisenhard said. "If you somehow gather the mental wherewithal to collect 30 UPC labels and mail them to our promotions department, we'll send you an Old Milwaukee pen and notepad set, perfect for scrawling down your tear-stained final words."
When asked whether the company was concerned that the new ads would diminish their sales due to mass suicides, Eisenhard expressed confidence that the Old Milwaukee brand could always rely on a new group of suicidal customers reaching drinking age.
"Since its founding in 1890, those who have been left hopeless by life—and, more generally, by the immutable tragedy of the human condition—have always provided the primary revenue stream for Old Milwaukee products," Eisenhard said. "That will never change."