Wieden & Kennedy, Portland
@radical.media, Errol Morris, director
One has to wonder what might have happened to deposed Miller Brewing Co. VP-marketing Jack Rooney if these spots had gotten more media weight behind them. While oodles of ponderous advertising broke for Lite and Genuine Draft, this little campaign of short, pithy observations on what it meant to be a High Life man sort of snuck out and bit us on our collective butts. With outrageously hard-assed copy spoken by a gruff, unseen announcer ("It's hard to respect the French when you have to bail them out of two big ones in one century," goes one spot), these spots celebrate manly men doing manly things, like eating that last little deviled egg. In "Boat," the announcer reproaches some poor slob who can't seem to back his boat-on-trailer into his driveway. "Just how far are we willing to fall?" he asks.
As with most post-modern beer advertising there's little talk of hops or malt here -- a striking comparison with the anachronistic, product-based approach Lite is using now. In its place, as usual, is attitude; the one on display here seems determined to restore some of High Life's old blue-collar credibility, but to do it steeped in Wieden-style irony. This is the beer for make-believe tough guys. The direction, too, is priceless (this campaign also won for Best Direction; see Craft category, pg. S-14), and even the subtle nuance of the off-kilter logos at the end of each spot makes the work feel at once old-fashioned yet completely contemporary.
Becks: "Comedy/Berlin," :30
Saatchi & Saatchi, New York
@radical.media, Tarsem, director
Despite the PC-ness of our times, playing on ethnic sterotypes is still a good way to make your point in advertising, and this spot does a marvelous job. What do Germans do best, it asks. Besides make trains run on time (or was that the Italians?), they make beer, and this comic campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi goes on with the time-honored device of showing us how poorly they do other things like relax, tell jokes and interpret Shakespeare.
The Bard might well roll over in his grave to see this depressingly updated monochromatic version of "Romeo & Juliet." It's so bad one must come away with the conclusion that the beer has to be fabulous. Again, there's no talk of product attributes, which a beer like Beck's actually has something to say about, but it's still funny. While the Germans might have trouble with that, at least the creative team knows a good gag when they see one.
Heineken: "Ball Boys," :30
Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York
@radical.media, Frank Todaro, director;
A crowded cafe is jammed with urban hipsters, engrossed in what must be Seinfeld-inspired chatter. Lurking in the shadows are figures in shorts and knit shirts, crouching, poised. Someone sets down a familiar green bottle with a red star on its label. Suddenly a runner takes off from under the bar, scoots across the room and snatches the empty off the table. Then another goes, and another. The visuals are backed up with funny sound effects of sneakers squeaking against the floor and empty bottles tooting as air rushes over their opened necks. In the final scene, two ball boys crouch in anticipation of their next run. "Good grab," says one. Sure, they could have found an easier way of promoting their sponsorship of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, but it would have probably been a lot more predictable.
Miller Lite: "Weird Guy," :30
Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis
HSI Productions, Gerard deThame, director
The above comments about Miller High Life notwithstanding, this spot came along at the tail end of the campaign, when many former critics were finally starting to come around to the engaging cheerfulness of most of the ads. Here, a portly sad sack (this actor also appears as one of the Adidas YANKS players) takes the "twist to open" instructions on a bottle of Lite a bit too literally, swivelling his hips in gross gyrations in an effort to pop its top. Like so much of Lite's advertising it was just plain absurd, but not so crazy that it didn't spawn a