Lite of the party: Miller ties in with 'Animal House'

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Miller Brewing Co. is tapping into nostalgia for the bawdy frat comedy "Animal House," linking Miller Lite with Universal Home Video's 25th anniversary release Aug. 26.

Distributors in 40 states will provide on-premise signs and other creative materials for bars developed by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Zipatoni, St. Louis. The shop created trivia collector cards, as well as banners and table tents using classic quotes from the film, including "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" and "Damn glad to meet you."

Between eight and 14 markets will host local on-premise events from viewings of the film to "Animal House" nights and toga parties. Team Enterprises USA, Miami, handles. Other events will include autograph signings with such original cast members as Mark Metcalf, who played military bully Doug Neidermeier.

beer `poet laureates'

The Miller Lite push comes as Universal Home Video sets an aggressive promotional campaign for the DVD release, including a bonus "Where Are They Now?" segment shot by original director John Landis and a remade music video of "Shout" by emerging punk band MxPx. In addition to a full complement of print, broadcast and online support, the DVD is getting a one-hour TV special called "Unseen and Untold: Animal House" on Spike TV Aug. 24 that looks into the making of the original movie and its impact on pop culture.

"It makes perfect sense that a beer company would want to get themselves aligned with this [film]," said Robert Thompson, a radio, TV and film professor at Syracuse University who screens the comedy every semester. "The writers of this movie were the poet laureates of beer and this movie is all about how beer is the fuel and the lubricant of American fun."

But using the notorious campus party film created challenges for the brewer cautious to avoid scenes using over-consumption as college binge-drinking has become a favorite topic of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other groups.

"People who saw `Animal House' when it first came out are certainly of legal drinking age," said a Miller Lite spokeswoman at SABMiller. "All of our marketing activities are always responsible and Universal is a very responsible organization."

"The movie is about college kids partying and certainly alcohol can be part of a great party," said Steven Milloy, an adjunct scholar at the Libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. "I don't think that kids binge drink because Miller is going to help sponsor a movie. Those kids inclined to binge drink are going to binge drink no matter what."

movie review

Miller and Universal screened marketing materials carefully to ensure the context steered clear of more racy content, according to Ricky Kim, senior account executive for Miller Lite at Zipatoni. "It was a very lengthy process," he said, noting the agency worked with Miller's legal department and review board. "We reviewed the movie plenty of times and there were things we could have chosen that weren't very [politically correct]. We were more about college time period and that time of life."

While Universal plans heavy outreach to college students, including a cross-promotion with PepsiCo's SoBe for a $105,000, seven-year scholarship prize, Miller is staying strictly off-campus.

"I don't think there will be any instances where we'll be directly on campus," said Mr. Kim. "There are so many restrictions against it."

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