Skims for Men. Inspired by Miller Lite?

It’s a shame that society has forced women into uncomfortable garments that squeeze and suffocate for the benefit of the male gaze. It’s been going on for centuries.

Spanx, and now Skims have become the latest expression of this phenomenon, helping women appear to be slimmer and shapelier in an era of supposed body positivity.

We also live in an age of equality, and now with the introduction of Skims for Men, men are similarly empowered to encase their bodies for maximum appeal.

The study of history helps us avoid mistakes of the past and allows us to embrace strategies that consistently prove to be successful. Marketing is no different, and I wonder if Kim Kardashian and her marketing team studied the Lite Beer from Miller case history, as they’ve embraced a similar approach.

In 1967, the Rheingold Beer company developed a way to reduce carbs and calories and by removing starch, and marketed the new product as Gablinger’s Diet Beer. It was a failure from the start. “Diet” was an even dirtier word in the 1960’s, clearly implying a trade-off of calories for taste. It was also perceived a feminine attribute with which no macho beer swigging man would want to be associated.

Miller changed all that with the introduction of what was then called Lite Beer from Miller in 1975. This was no diet beer. It “tasted great,” but was “less filling,” carrying the implication that one could drink more of it. The true brilliance was the advertising campaign, cast with well-known retired athletes and other tough guys. The spots were funny and engaging. People looked forward to seeing them.

While Skims for Men lacks the humor (though an SNL spoof seems inevitable), the brand has engaged some very manly men from the world of sports, including soccer player Neymar Jr, NBA All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and pro football player Nick Bosa.

What both campaigns have in common is that they give men permission to do what they’ve probably wanted to do all along. I had a personal trainer, himself a former member of an NFL teams practice squad, who used to tell me how he always bought his t-shirts a size too small to accentuate his pecs and biceps. Yes, macho men are vain too.

I await with bated breath to see if the slimming category takes off with Gen-Z. I suspect it will.


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