LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: DEBATING THE MILLER ADS

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Rance Crain just doesn't get it.

He's proven this most recently in his reference to Miller Lite's new advertising ("Miller sacrilege latest to ignore what the product's all about," AA, Jan. 20) as "horrifying" and as "ads so horrendously bad" and a "sacrilege" to "the Miller Time heritage."

Traditional beer advertising doesn't work any more like it used to. It has suffered from sameness and overexposure. Beauty pours, reason-why announcer copy, beer heroes and smiling faces going places have all become part of history known as "my father's beer."

I proudly created part of that history-as creative director at Leo Burnett USA (Schlitz-"Go for the Gusto"), McCann-Erickson World-wide (Miller) and DMB&B ("This Bud's for You"). This advertising was highly effective in its day.

But this is now. Today's new beer consumer is more advertising-sophisticated and more beer-knowledgeable (thanks to microbrews).

He's skeptical about advertising that claims overt superiority. And is more attracted to beer advertising that represents a refreshing change-rather than copy that talks about refreshment. He identifies more with a brand that's presented in an unpretentious and disarming way. It feels more honest and invites discovery.

Miller advertising is striving to break out and be more top of mind. Generally, I believe it succeeds. Not only because it's unexpected, but because it's based on an extraordinary understanding of the prospect.

And it has a memorable theme line from the brand's own heritage: "Miller Time." In Rance Crain's own words: "How can you improve on that?"

Al Lerman

Creative Consultant

Stamford, Conn.

Once again you've nailed a big problem in the advertising business: To sell or not to sell.

Miller has hopelessly confused its customers with an army of Millers: High Life, Lite, Genuine Draft, Genuine Draft Lite, Ice and just plain Miller.

Now in desperation they've decided that they should try the "not to sell" approach, which borders on not entertaining advertising but weird advertising.

Budweiser has at least hedged its bet. They are selling with "freshness" and not selling with "frogs."

Meanwhile, back at Miller, it does indeed look like the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Jack Trout

President, Trout & Partners

Greenwich, Conn.

Regarding your viewpoints on the "Miller sacrilege . . ." (AA, Jan. 20), I couldn't agree more and can only imagine what Mr. Backer [Bill Backer, co-founder, Backer & Spielvogel, which built Miller Lite's "tastes great, less filling" campaign] would have to say. If printable, it would be interesting to read.

Jack Rooney [named Miller Brewing Co. VP-marketing in January] has an enormous marketing task to face. Let's hope it is met with a clarity of strategy that has sorely lacked for each of their brands.

Steve King

Cedarburg,Wis.

For warnings in ads

Is Advertising Age getting soft?

Your call for "a simplified, yet effective, warning to consult a physician about safe use of the product" in advertisements (on TV, no less) for prescription drugs ("Rx for Rx ads: rule changes," AA, Jan. 20) sounds alarmingly like a proposal long supported by the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence.

Simple warnings on advertisements for alcoholic beverages, the drug responsible for over 100,000 deaths each year in the U.S. and a leading cause of young people dropping out of school, would no more violate advertisers' First Amendment rights than your proposal.

Sarah Kayson

Director for Public Policy

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence

Washington

Corrections

In "`Jurassic' sequel set to be promo monster" (Feb. 10, P. 1), Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, is only responsible for the Mercedes-Benz tie-in with the upcoming "The Lost World: Jurassic Park." JVC and Timberland Co. aren't Lowe clients. AGG International, New York, will handle JVC's promotion.

In "Taco Bell plans overhaul to get beyond low prices" (Feb. 10, P. 2), the fast-food chain's CEO is John Antioco.

In "On a Roll" (Jan. 20, P. 24), Val-Pak Direct Marketing did not sue African American Value Pack. Instead, Val-Pak issued a cease and desist order, forcing the company to change its name to Nia Direct.

In "Fledgling soccer league ready to draft ad agency" (Jan. 6, P. 37), a McDonald's spot featuring soccer star Tab Ramos and basketball's Scottie Pippen was created by Del Rivero, Messianu, Coral Gables, Fla.

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