Garfield's AdReview

By Published on .

It's beautiful. It's lyrical. Poignant. Heavenly. Unquestionably, this is one of the finest Coca-Cola ads ever made.

Damn shame it's for Miller High Life. The spot, called "Girl in the Moon," employs the wrong style and the wrong imagery to appeal to the wrong demographic with the wrong message. More specific denunciations to follow, but first let's give credit to Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., for craftsmanship and surpassing charm.

"When I look back on everything, I see over 100 years of our incredible history," begins the female voice-over, whose identity we do not yet know. She speaks above a montage of dated photos, some digitally layered for a striking stereopticon effect, all linking to the halcyon past: surfers, boyfriends and girlfriends, sunbathers, rocket-launch spectators. Ray Charles. Y.A. Tittle.

"I see 100 years of moments. I see over one hundred years of our incredible history. I was there when the first keg was tapped. I've seen the growth and optimism of a young country, and all the great minds that give us reason to celebrate. ..." And so on in that vein, till she reveals herself as an old friend, the girl in the moon, who wants to share "Everything."

Remember her? She's been glued to the High Life bottleneck for a century. But let's just say she's no Aunt Jemima, or Morton salt girl, or St. Pauli Girl or Wendy. If ad icons had Q ratings, she'd be somewhere in the Jaye P. Morgan range.

As to the images chosen, well, they certainly do chronicle the memories of our lives-unless by "our" you happen to mean "big beer drinkers."' Y.A. Tittle??!! Yes, for persons of a certain age, the image of the bloodied, dejected New York Giants quarterback on his knees is synonymous with the agony of defeat. But those persons don't drink beer. They drink Maalox.

Mind you, the AdReview staff is switching to High Life, because the commercial makes us all gooey for the good old days when folks wore unsightly eyewear and Dad ordered High Life-or "Miller's," as he called it-in the unique clear bottle. But Dad has been dead since 1972, the average age of our staff is 50, and among us we drink about three cases of beer a year.

The kid who cuts our grass drinks about three cases a week, and he doesn't want to see the Girl in the Moon unless she's doing a pole dance.

Evidently, however, Miller Brewing envisions a target consumer somewhere in between the young landscaper and our decrepit selves. These theoretical customers are 30ish, more well-heeled and substantially more female. They're not chugging antacid yet; most likely they're sipping Pinot Grigio.

So, sure, maybe they needn't necessarily recognize the scrapbook images to credit their authenticity and be nostalgic for the collective memories of a country, culture and brand. And maybe this sophisticated tone will eventually rescue Miller Life from the budget segment-where Miller Brewing stupidly consigned it a decade ago-to the prestige and pricing due the Champagne of Beers.

Better had. Because by appealing to a hypothetical audience, High Life will quickly cease to be relevant to the actual, guzzling one. Why dump the gruff, blue-collar High Life Man who single-handedly stopped the brand's steady slide to the brink of oblivion? Why abandon the faithful he has so brilliantly cultivated?

As for the new target's mystical regard for "authenticity," will it be served-or mocked-by the glibness and slickness of the new campaign. Constant repositioning of the same beer does not confer "tradition." It confers insincerity.

Which isn't so heavenly. It's just plain loony.

Review 1.5 stars

Ad: Miller

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy

Location: Portland, Ore.

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