"The ad approach is in a parking space that Budweiser has backed out of, [one] that built a whole number of huge brands," Rich Lalley, group director of Miller-branded products, said last week in a video for distributors.
As expected, the new Miller beer will bow this spring but, in an unusual move, the brewer named Scaros & Casselman, Stamford, Conn., as agency for the $50 million account.
HANDOFF HAD BEEN EXPECTED
Scaros & Casselman did brand development work, but Miller had been expected to hand off the actual campaign to D'Arcy, Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis and New York, the former Bud agency, or to one of its own larger shops such as Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, or Young & Rubicam, New York and Chicago.
The win more than doubles the billings of the agency formed by two former agency executives who first handled Miller business at McCann-Erickson nearly 20 years ago. The agency handles work for Hiram Walker & Sons, Caldor Corp., Waldenbooks and American Optical Corp.
Carl Casselman, president and chief creative officer, played a key role in developing the "Tastes great, less filling" line for Miller Lite while at McCann. Dean Scaros stayed with the account when a group of McCann executives left to form what is now Bates USA and eventually became Bates president and chief operating officer.
The new Miller "regular" comes just three years after the brewer cut the price of Miller High Life-which also thrived on a "Miller time" reward theme a decade or so ago-but Miller claims its new flagship is quite literally a brew of a different color.
Heavier in taste and darker than most regular beers, Miller is positioning the brew as the answer to the drinker who wants more taste than regular beers, but isn't ready for some of the microbrews' bitterness.
"We are not going after Budweiser. We are going after the mainstream segment," said Neil Harrison, Miller exec VP-marketing. "It's remarkably different from any mainstream beer. It's a distinct beer."
The advertising features a reward for doing a good job theme reminiscent of 1960s and '70s era Budweiser advertising. One spot features mountain bikers celebrating after a long tough ride.
Miller said it plans more print ads than it has recently been using. It will also have Hispanic ads at launch from Marti Flores Pieto & Wachtel, San Juan, Puerto Rico.