Miller Lite Aims Higher

'Beer Heaven' Ad Backs Claim to Being 'Ultimate Light Beer'

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Miller Lite is going to "Beer Heaven."

That's the name of the new spot for the brand from Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The spot, introduced to distributors at a conference in New Orleans last week, shows a consumer's foray into an unusually accommodating bar, complete with monogrammed, reclining bar stools, air hockey tables that double as wide-screen TVs, waitresses who clone themselves to accommodate multiple drink orders, bottles that don't break or spill when dropped and, of course, lots of Miller Lite.

Hanging Up on 'Good Call'
The ad is the latest from Miller Lite as the brand aspires to its "Ultimate Light Beer" claim, which for the first time is replacing "Good Call" as the tagline in Miller Lite's creative.

Earlier ads from Bartle Bogle, which took over as Miller Lite's primary agency last year, focused on taste and carbohydrate comparisons with the No. 2 light brew's larger rival, Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light. Those spots tweaked A-B's iconography, showing its Dalmatians defecting and its Clydesdale hitch being passed by in favor of Miller Lite delivery trucks.

Another new Bartle Bogle spot, dubbed "Joke Bottles," seemingly needles Bud Light -- renowned for decades of frat-boy-humor-driven ads -- a little further: In it, a series of people open beer bottles, only to have various gags spring out. A toy snake flies out of one, a boxing glove springs from another. Then, by contrast, a Miller Lite is poured, prompting the voice-over "less jokes, more taste."

"We have real advantages over our competitors and can be more assumptive about our superiority," said Deb Boyda, Miller's VP-content communications.

Bubbly feeling
The spots seemed to go over well with distributors, who generally applaud comparative advertising, particularly when it tweaks the market leader. "Everybody loved 'Joke Bottles,' everybody loved 'Beer Heaven,'" said one Texas distributor. "Guys were giving each other high-fives afterwards."

The distributors also saw a first glimpse of work from Miller Chill's new agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. In those spots, consumers reaching for a Chill on a beach or other hot setting get goose bumps.

Ms. Boyda said the new work was intended to give the brand more "emotional resonance" than last year's introductory campaign from Y&R.

Chill surpassed Miller's expectations during last summer's national launch, but sales dipped more than expected in the winter. And now the brand has an additional competitor: A-B's Bud Light Lime, which launches next month.

Merging with Coors
The distributors meeting, expected to be the last before Miller merges its U.S. operations with Coors Brewing Co. in a deal pending regulatory approval, was mostly upbeat.

One of the few down notes was the ongoing struggles of Miller Genuine Draft, which executives said would be getting a new campaign for the eighth time in as many years.

Miller executives said they would be testing two MGD campaign concepts in the coming months in order to pick the best one for the summer selling season.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, Miller spent $231 million on measured media last year, roughly $128 million of that on Miller Lite.
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