New Miller Ads Fete High Life In Pandemic Time

At a time of scaled-down events — Korean baseball in empty stadiums? Drive-in graduation ceremonies? — Miller High Life has just introduced three new commercials that fit that vibe.

If Budweiser can go back to asking “Wassup???” then High Life’s answer is, at best, “Nothing much.” The newest batch of commercials celebrate building a beer-can pyramid, shaving your head and throwing peanut shells into a wastepaper basket

That’s the droll Miller High Life stay-at-home pitch, breaking today (if breaking is the right word). They’re from the brand’s new agency, adam&eveNYC. 

At a time of social isolation, mandatory family life and general boredom, the new batch of ads seem agreeably sarcastic.



For example,  In the beer-can pyramid spot, the voiceover says, “With all this time, you could have learned a new language. Or written the great American novel.” 

As the camera pans to the beer cans, the voice continues, “Instead you did this. . . Bravo.”

“In light of coronavirus and lockdown, few people would say they are living the ‘High Life’ at the moment,” said Miller High Life marketing manager Nigel Jones, in an email comment that seemed just as caustic as the commercials’ language. 

High Life just keeps grinding it out with the downscale demo. iI has a 2% share of the beer market in a marketplace where the most popular beers are craft brews and pricey premiums. 

The new ads are spiritually tied to a previous series of commercials celebrating humdrum ordinariness. Those ads — more than six dozen of them from Wieden + Kennedy and directed by Oscar winner/documentary film director Errol Morris — aired from 1998-2005, styled and scripted to look and sound as if they were from the '60s or '70s. 

With a seemingly endless sea of brands speaking to a sense of community and social responsibility, High Life saw an opportunity to do something a little different, drawing inspiration from a past campaign and molding it to the current times,” Jones said.

Back then, High Life thanked the otherwise inept French for mayonnaise (“Nice job, Pierre!”); gave its OK to eating donuts with axle grease on your fingers (“that’s just flavor to a High Life man”); and crucified the very idea of  then-new SUVs (“If this vehicular masquerade represents the high life to which men are called, we should trade our trousers for skirts, right now”).

David Aston-Rees, with a tone that sounds like he’s narrating the battle of Dunkirk, did the voice work on both batches of High Life ads.

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