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Miller Brewing Co. is unleashing Red Dog beer onto network TV following strong initial sales in Southeast markets.

Starting Nov. 21, the iconoclastic dog with voice provided by actor Tommy Lee Jones will get national exposure in ads from BBDO, Toronto. However, the beer identified as coming from "the Plank Road Brewery" won't be truly national until January.

Miller said spending for Red Dog won't come from other brands. "It is incremental money," said Richard Lalley, Miller's director of new product development. "We've done a lot of homework and believe the [sales] volume will pay for it."

Mr. Lalley said that in some Southeast markets Red Dog has taken a more than 2% share.

Competitors noted that trial and retailer shipments would color early results and claimed Miller was acting to overcome weakness in other brands.

Red Dog's advertising was developed by Molson Breweries and BBDO for a heavier beer in Canada. Miller, whose parent Philip Morris Cos. has an interest in Molson, liked the concept and advertising so much it decided to use the approach for a more mainstream U.S. beer.

Miller says it will avoid problems Anheuser-Busch faced with Bud Light spokesdog Spuds MacKenzie-the inherent appeal to children-by using its dog only in TV spots, and relying on a caricature for promotions.

Separately, Miller last week named Young & Rubicam as its first international agency of record. Y&R will plan media and tailor U.S. advertising in countries where local shops aren't used.

The decision seemed to bypass Bates USA, New York, which has most U.S. media buying.

Ad sources said the move was further retribution for Bates Dorland, London, taking a Lucky Strike international assignment from B.A.T Industries even though Bates USA handled Philip Morris' Parliament in the U.S. In September, Philip Morris said it was moving Parliament's U.S. account to Y&R.

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