Miller High Life has reunited with director and documentarian Errol Morris to revive its plainspoken “High Life Man” ads. The campaign, originally from Wieden+Kennedy, won acclaim in the late 1990s and early 2000s for its use of an everyman character to extol the virtues of simple pleasures like adding a slab of butter to a hamburger or fixing an uneven table with a beer coaster.
The new ads are adopted for the stay-at-home era. The three spots feature brainless activities to pass time amid the boredom that comes from confinement—including building a beer pyramid, tossing peanut shells into a wastebasket and a self-administered haircut. The ads come from adam&eveDDB New York, which recently picked up the High Life account. The campaign begins today and will run on TV and digital, airing throughout the summer.
Morris shot the ads from his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, using his own filming equipment while collaborating with the agency and brand via Zoom. The only people who appear in the spots are Morris and his son.
“In light of coronavirus and lockdown, few people would say they are living the ‘High Life’ at the moment,” the Molson Coors-owned brand said in a statement. “With a seemingly endless sea of brands speaking to a sense of community and social responsibility, Miller and new AOR adam&eveNYC saw an opportunity to do something a little less worthy. They came up with the idea to reunite Errol with High Life to celebrate the small moments and everyday wins at home during lockdown.”
Morris shot more than 100 High Life ads from 1998 to 2005. The masculine campaign—which pondered topics like the fact that "beef" and "beer" have only one letter different—served as counterprogramming to the metrosexual ad approaches taking hold at the time, while reconnecting the brand to its blue-collar roots. It was credited with sparking an uptick in sales that quickly receded when the brewer scrapped the effort in 2005 for more upscale ads that featured the brand's "Girl in the Moon" icon.
In 2015, High Life re-ran some of the old spots in select Midwestern markets as a way to plug vintage bottles that the brand re-introduced into the market at the time.
The brand in its statement about the new work said that “with Morris’ love of lingering shots and odd framing, these iconic ads continue to occupy a legendary place in beer advertising history.”
Below, a look at a few of the original ads.