MILLER FRESHENS CREATIVE FOR LITE, GENUINE DRAFT: BREWER ALSO ADDING CABLE, NET TV TO RED DOG, HIGH LIFE MEDIA BUYS

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Miller Brewing Co. is updating ad campaigns for lead brands Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft as it launches two new efforts for smaller brands.

Continuing a creative evolution that began late last year, the brewer is tying the humor in its wacky Lite campaign more directly to the beer; with Genuine Draft, it's shifting from grungy hipsters to more mainstream characters and specific ethnic executions.

MGD SPOTS GET PERSONAL

Lite "is more the object of the ads," said Jack Rooney, VP-marketing for Miller, a unit of Philip Morris Cos. "A lot of the situations [in Genuine Draft spots] are more personal."

Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, handles Lite and Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., oversees Genuine Draft.

Miller spent $263.5 million on ads last year, up 12.2% from the year-earlier period, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

The new work got positive reviews from wholesalers last week, who said the ads connected better to the products than initial spots in the respective campaigns and would have an appeal beyond the 21-to-28-year-old set Miller is wooing.

The advertising "was more understandable," said one wholesaler.

LITE SALES INCREASE

Thanks to heavy media spending, new creative and aggressive pricing, Lite sales volume picked up 1.9% last year and Genuine Draft's decline slowed down, according to industry newsletter Impact.

The new Lite ads position the product as a refreshing brew that drinkers crave. In one, a stripper keeps a man enraptured by peeling the label off the bottle; another contrasts the chilly bottle with an absurdly hot tamale.

There are new ethnic spots in the Lite mix. A Latino-theme ad highlights the soccer rivalry between Spain and Argentina; rapper Ice-T appears in a spot targeted to African-Americans.

Miller also unveiled overhauled packaging for Lite that features bright colors, overlapping graphics, multiple typefaces and a variety of humorous quips. The redesign is meant to reflect the spirit of the Fallon campaign.

Updated bottles and cans will be rolled out in June and will receive ad support.

Much of the Genuine Draft work is tied to a Harley-Davidson 95th anniversary promotion and features brewery workers, bakers and a restaurateur who are connected to the bash this June in Milwaukee. Spots break April 12.

Wholesalers also were pleased to see that Red Dog and Miller High Life will be receiving national TV and cable support with new, macho-themed campaigns. The new $5 million Red Dog campaign from Square One, Dallas, focuses on night life and runs with the tag, "Let the dog out."

FOR HARDWORKING JOES

The High Life campaign, from Wieden, positions the brand as the brew for hardworking, regular Joes.

In one spot, a man with grease-covered hands is eating a doughnut. "Even if some of that grease does get on the doughnut, that's just flavor to a High Life man," the ad says.

Miller High Life is expected to receive about $10 million in support.

Miller is linking High Life to Major League Baseball. Spots will break during games on April 12, and the brewer plans to run some baseball promotions during the season.

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