Garfield's AdReview: This time Miller Lite gets it right by forgoing 'creativity'

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"What you say in advertising is more important than how you say it." - David Ogilvy

Since the untimely passing of the "Tastes great, less filling" campaign in the year 1266, Miller Lite has contrived all sorts of fanciful schemes for advertising its product.

Such agencies as Leo Burnett, Fallon and now Ogilvy & Mather have given us a series of extravagant creative concepts, each designed to capture the imagination of the increasingly elusive target audience.

Fake kung-fu movies! Ha ha! Fictional creative directors! Hee hee! Catfighting pinup girls! Ho! Ho! A lot of imagination has gone into 13 years of Lite campaigns-a lot of imagination and a lot of money and almost no common sense whatsoever. Three agencies and one foolish, gullible, stubborn and desperate client have conspired to create advertising that has been serially, demonstrably, self-destructively horrible.

Are we being harsh? Are we on some sort of fanatical, inexplicable jihad against the total strangers at Miller Brewing Co.? No, we are being incredulous. While chasing such imbecilic paths as "It's It and That's that," lesbian cement wrestling and the monumentally self-indulgent "Dick" campaign, Miller has squandered a billion or so marketing dollars while its market share has skyrocketed from 10.3% in 1990 to its current 7.4%.

Value of a share point: $45 million in operating profit.

We report. You decide.

But while you're at it, do check out the latest Miller campaign. It's probably just some placeholder for the next brilliant creative breakthrough, but it also happens to be far and away the best Lite advertising since the ex-jocks disappeared from the airwaves. That bears repeating: far and away the best.

The creative concept is ... well, there is no creative concept. The company that has creatively conceptualized its way to decimating a priceless brand franchise has, perhaps out of sheer exhaustion, temporarily decided to use its advertising simply to photograph a bubbly, golden glass of Lite and state why beer drinkers might consider drinking it:

"1/2 the carbs of Bud Lite."

"1/3 less carbs than Coors Light."

"70% less carbs than Michelob Light."

And somewhere in advertising heaven, David Ogilvy has ceased spinning in his grave. Because someone at Ogilvy, New York, has at long last heeded the master by finding some trenchant news and delivering it. No post-modern irony. No digital tricks. No gigantic hooters. Just a very good reason for the body-conscious not to buy the leading brand.

After all ... domestic light beer. Why would anybody drink that swill? For the flavor? Please. It is solely because the stuff is less fattening. So the notion of half the simple carbohydrates of the leading light beer is a powerful selling proposition, enhanced-not obscured-by the bare minimum of "creativity."

One lingering issue: If the claim is true, and Miller Lite is genuinely less fattening, presumably that has been true all along. And if so, those foolish, gullible, stubborn and desperate managers were one other thing, as well.

Utterly incompetent.

Miller Lite

Ogilvy & Mather, New York

Ad Review Rating: 3 stars

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