Are There Any Real Men Left in America?
By the 1980s, Miller's oldest brand, High Life, had become somewhat of a has-been. The drop in sales had caused Miller to discount it heavily, pushing it into the category of a "sub-premium brand" of beer.
Then, in 1998, Miller decided to take a shot at reviving the brand.
When the brief landed on the desk of Wieden + Kennedy Portland's Jeff Kling, all it said was …
After reviewing the file and Miller High Life's history, Kling sent an email to a friend:
“Only a large scale decline in American manhood can account for the near disappearance of Miller High Life Beer.”
Out of this idea came the more finely-tuned idea to highlight and exploit America`s beleaguered masculinity.
The idea was to position Miller High Life as man's best ally in the ongoing battle to help the stronger sex stay strong.
Members of Kling's team went to a few Midwestern cities and started talking to guys. Out of their interviews, they came up with a male profile:
A real guy, a guy who likes to build stuff.
Guys who said things like …
"We have no sympathy for the guys in the collared shirts who get in their Lexuses at the end of the day and go cry into their beer."
The campaign featured life as it should be — one where duct tape, hot dogs, and burgers rule the day. And it pointed out things that real men should not have to put up with: fake fireplace logs, the inability to maneuver one's boat, and fruit.
Here are summaries of three of the ads from the Miller High Life series:
- Miller High Life delivery guy goes into a Major League Baseball skybox with a delivery and asks the people mingling about if they can tell him what inning the game is in. When they can't, he leaves, taking the Miller High Life with him.
- A guy watching his neighbor try to back up his boat into his driveway. The voice-over says, "There was a time when a man had command over his own vehicle. Better equip yourself with the High Life, soldier."
- A hot dog is shown and the voice-over says, "Who cares what's in a hot dog?" After mentioning that the most important thing is that a hot dog tastes great, the voice-over continues with, "You do not ask of the hot dog, the hot dog asks of you. What are you made of? What spice do you add to the national knockwurst? What flavor do you contribute to the High Life?
Each advertisement shone the spotlight on some aspect of a way of life and a way of thinking that was disappearing — and in a humorous way.
By getting to the heart of their target audience, it became one of the most original and endearing campaigns in beer advertising.
The Miller High Life Man ads ran from 1998 to 2004. It reclaimed Miller High Life's heritage and also introduced it to a whole new generation of beer drinkers.
Do you remember the Miller High Life campaign? Do you have any comments you'd like to share about it?
If so, please post your comments here.
Tune in tomorrow when I reveal how an effort to promote a beer from Mexico resulted in the creation of a cultural icon.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »