MGD JOINS LITE IN BRINGING BACK 'MILLER TIME' TAG: FIRST ADS FROM WIEDEN BREAK; FALLON TO MOVE FOCUS OFF 'DICK'

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The second phase of Miller Brewing Co.'s ad makeover kicked off Feb. 9 with the much-anticipated debut of Miller Genuine Draft advertising from Wieden & Kennedy.

A 60-second spot that broke during the National Basketball Association all-star game on NBC features the "Miller Time" theme, revealing the brewer's intention to use that as an overall branding strategy.

"Miller Time," popularized in the 1970s and early '80s for Miller High Life beer, was first resurrected last month in Fallon McElligott's campaign for Miller Lite.

FAMILIAR CONCEPT

"Consumers are very familiar with 'Miller Time' and identify it with our company," said Jeff Carefoote, brand manager for Miller Genuine Draft.

Creative in the first spot from Portland, Ore.-based Wieden assigns grunge glamor to the brand by poking fun at microbrews and imports. Grainy, b&w images of backyard barbecues and kegs rolling off a production line are interspersed with written messages such as "It's time for beer to quit acting like wine" and "It's time to drink beer imported all the way from Milwaukee."

In addition to 30-second TV executions to come, a 12-page insert is slated for the mid-February Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

The new ads come as advertising veteran Jack Rooney officially begins his tenure as Miller's VP-marketing, and as Fallon's Lite ads sustain media criticism and mixed reviews from Miller's wholesale distributors.

Executives close to Miller say while the company likes that the campaign is getting attention, the brewer has since instructed Minneapolis-based Fallon to begin evolving the Lite campaign to shift the focus more toward beer and away from the "Dick" character.

Miller's goal, one insider said, was to shock people into noticing the brand. Dick was a tool to create the campaign's framework of unpredictability, the source said. Once that is established, Dick will be phased out, as will some of the random images of the first executions.

DESIGNED TO EVOLVE

"This campaign was designed to evolve, because the beer audience gets bored quickly. There will be an enormous number of spots in this campaign," said Mark Goldstein, president-integrated marketing at Fallon. He declined to comment on the future of Dick.

A final Miller spot from former agency Bates USA, New York, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the NBA, also was to air during the all-star game.

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