Ad Review rating: * * * 1/2 LITE TAKES ODD 'TWIST', BUT THE BEER BENEFITS

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Fallon mcelligott's Miller Lite advertising-advertising that was in many ways terrible for a long time-is now almost uniformly brilliant and possibly the best in its category in the world.

We say that. We believe that. But, it's nothing personal.

Got that? Do certain parties get that?

Here's why we even raise the subject: We at Ad Review pride ourselves on assiduously avoiding agency people, lest our praise or disapproval of agencies' output be mistaken for something other than disinterested (not to say uninterested) analysis.

Alas, this industry is lousy with vanity and paranoia. And people who get stung with a nasty review-or even a glowing review that fails to use the phrase "transcendent genius"-sometimes don't consider the possibility that the advertising may be in some way lacking.

They seek rather another explanation: a hostile personal agenda, if not outright global conspiracy-even if Ad Review had previously been quite positive about the agency's work and had never met, much less been antagonized into unethical behavior by, a single person connected with either the agency or the client.

In other words, they take personally what cannot possibly be intended as personal-a reaction that goes straight to our integrity and that we therefore cannot help but take . . . personally.

This has happened more than once (usually, with highly regarded agencies that have historically fared extremely well in this column). We try to stay above the fray, but that isn't always easy. So, once again, for any confused and galloping egomaniacs among you: It wasn't personal when we disliked the Lite campaign, and it isn't personal now that we like it.

Really like it. For instance, have you seen the "Twist" spot?

It's wonderful. Simple, stupid, hilarious and wonderful.

On a hot city night, a fat hairy guy goes to the fridge for a beer. He pulls out a Miller Lite, puts it on the counter and-unaccountably-starts doing the twist. He's looking at the bottle expectantly while doing the twist. Finally, we see why: The bottle cap says, "Twist to open."

This spot is all of the things this controversial campaign has strived to be and, until now, not quite attained.

It is strange, funny and irresistible. Mostly, though, it is about beer. When the ads are about beer, they are marvelous; when they are about showing off oddness for its own sake, they are wrong.

Another spot, just as eccentric and just as funny, is about a little bearded guy whose arm wags uncontrollably in the presence of a Miller Lite. It is hilarious, in no small part because the product, not the "creativity," is the hero. At long last, almost every new execution displays that understanding, and the reward to the client is profound.

After two years, the campaign's distinctive overture has acquired unprecedented equity and power. The brief instrumental flourish, against the now-familiar amber logo card, lasts only 3 seconds but alone achieves more than a lot of 30-second commercials.

Not only does its overorchestrated extravagance drip with the irony that characterizes the entire campaign, it announces that a Lite ad-with all the associated humor, weirdness and absurdity-is on its way. Undoubtedly this overblown little riff has aborted many trips to the refrigerator, because those 10 little notes are a sure promise of entertainment ahead.

And, in our personal opinion, of a growing Miller Lite market share as well.

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