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Miller Brewing Co. didn't have new advertising to show at the National Beer Wholesalers Association meeting last week, and said it may not have any ready in time for its own distributors' next convention in March 2000.

Miller President-CEO John Bowlin told the Las Vegas conventioneers he had no time frame for unveiling new Lite and Miller Genuine Draft ads. Instead, he showed previous work of the creative team at new Lite agency Ogilvy & Mather, New York. That included American Express Co. ads with comedian Jerry Seinfeld and commercials for Ameritrade, IBM Corp. and Jaguar Cars North America.

Miller also showed work from J. Walter Thompson USA, Chicago, which has the MGD assignment. But that reel, notably, didn't include any Budweiser or Bud Light ads crafted by Miller's JWT team in their prior posts at DDB Worldwide, Chicago.


Although distributors wish the new advertising were airing now, they don't appear to mind the wait.

"As bad as it had gotten, it's not something that you can turn around overnight. Miller can't afford any major blunders like they had in the past," said one western wholesaler.

Learning from the failed "Dick" effort from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, for Lite and campaigns panned by distributors from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., for MGD, Miller and the two agencies hired in July are doing extensive research to make sure their next campaigns are on target.

"They said when the ads are ready, they'll show them to us," another West Coast distributor said. "They want to make sure it's just so -- that they get it right. They don't have many more chances."

The earlier ads -- and prior management's insistence on clinging to them -- have been blamed for Miller's sales slide. But after last week's presentation, wholesalers say they feel better about Miller.

"I'm so ready for a new campaign, I can't wait," a third western wholesaler said. "I'm feeling better about our team than at any time in the past seven

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