Miller High Life won't be doing another one-second commercial for this year's Super Bowl. Instead, the brand will buy a 30-second spot -- but position it as being "given" to small businesses as a platform for them to tell their stories.
Last year, the brand used pre-game teaser commercials starring its popular "deliveryman" (actor Windell Middlebrooks) to spread the word that it would be forgoing a standard-length commercial because spending $3 million was too much. (Due to the economy, 30-second rates are down to between $2.5 million and $2.8 million this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.)
Miller and agency Saatchi & Saatchi New York also supported the "common sense" theme -- and the core message that High Life is a good, honest beer at a reasonable price -- with a Web site where viewers could watch the teaser spot and versions of the one-second ad that didn't make it to the Super Bowl.
This year, the common-sense theme and teaser ad strategy continue. But this time, the teaser ad has Miller's deliveryman complaining that "every year, those big muckety-muck companies prance out those fancy pants commercials" -- and then suggesting that "this year, High Life should buy a commercial on the big game and give it to the little guys, the people who need it."
Those little guys are real small business owners selected by Miller via a nationwide search. The Super Bowl spot, which will air in major markets during Feb. 7's game, will feature the owners of Del's Barber Shop in Escondido, Calif., Tim's Baseball Card Shop in Chicago, Ill., Loretta's Authentic Pralines in New Orleans, La. and Bizarre Guitar & Drum in Phoenix, Ariz. as well as the deliveryman, according to a MillerCoors release.
"Miller High Life is all about common sense, and nothing makes more sense than giving deserving small businesses the opportunity to be a part of the Big Game," Miller High Life brand manager Joe Abegg commented in the announcement about this year's game spot. "These businesses live the High Life every day by retaining a steadfast commitment to service and authenticity. What better way to show our appreciation for hard-working Americans who share High Life's values than by providing a primetime stage for a few to tell their story?"
The teaser ad began airing on TV this week, and is also viewable on a "Little Guys on the Big Game" area of the Miller High Life site (MillerHighLife.com). Outtakes from the shoot of the Super Bowl commercial and information on the four featured businesses and others who "are living the High Life" will also be available on the site.
The site's intro expresses the zeitgeist to which this year's efforts are appealing in no uncertain terms: "You know who's getting all the help these days? Fat-Cat-Wall Street-Muckety-Mucks. No one's helping out the little guy..."
The return of the common-sense theme and teaser strategy speak to its success for the brand last year. But as usual, not everyone's a fan.
"It's certainly a trendy approach, with everyone talking about the need to get small businesses going to speed economic recovery," observes Laura Ries of the Ries & Ries branding consultancy. "But it strikes me as inauthentic. For one thing, this 'little guy,' American everyman message is coming from what's now a huge, worldwide brand." "The old 'Miller Time' commercials were very authentic and strong, because back then, the end of the workday or a big game really was Miller Time," Ries adds. "But those days are gone. The brand has overextended itself. These are the kinds of approaches you see when a brand is not known for any one particular thing anymore."