In a move reminiscent with all of Miller’s recent ad campaigns, they’ve decided to pull the plug of Man Laws, which debuted last spring. Miller announced last week while I was in London that their latest campaign will be on hiatus, perhaps until football season resumes once more in the fall.
The official reason stated is “that Miller is shifting its strategy to focus more on the qualities that make Miller Lite different from other reduced-calorie beers,” which is, of course, businessspeak for sales of Miller Lite continue to fall and the blame has been put on the advertising.
As AdAge (subscription) put it, “Man Law No. 1: Advertising Must Boost Sales.” This seems to be the way these things go nowadays, in a world that’s increasingly faster paced, where new television shows are cancelled within weeks, movies have very short runs, and nothing is really allowed to find its audience over time. If it doesn’t work immediately, then discard it and try something new, and fast. Was our appetite for the next quick fix created by marketing machines or are they merely playing into our natural tendencies using more sophisticated techniques? It’s worth asking, because I can’t believe an entire society with ADD was inevitable … or desirable.
But this seems to be Miller’s biggest problem with their ad campaigns over the past decade, perhaps longer. They had great success with the “tastes great, less filling” campaign of the 1980s but have never really found anything close to duplicating that success. Every couple of months, a new campaign (by a new agency, in many cases) is trotted out to great fanfare only to die in a fiery ball of collective yawns from their target audience. Either they’re poorly thought out (catfights, “Dick”) or they’re not given much of a chance (like the man laws). So then it’s on to the next one, with the predictably same result.
Anhesuer-Busch, on the other hand, has been far more successful in creating a series of memorable ads. Sales of their Bud Light, along with Coors Light, have seen recent single-digit sales increases.
But even if the Man Law ads haven’t translated directly into sales growth, the concept has been wildly popular, inspiring literally hundreds of thousands of proposed new man laws to the Manlawpedia at the Men of the Square Table website. They’ve obviously managed to capture something that appeals to a great many people, so it seems like a bad idea to abandon it before it has a chance to build more fully.
According to AdAge, the “new spots differentiate Miller Lite from its competitors by noting its spelling (“Lite” vs. the less distinctive but not misspelled “Light” used by A-B and Coors). They are expected to air until new work from Crispin, Porter & Bogusky — a return to the more comparative style of advertising Miller employed during Lite’s 2003-2004 renaissance — replaces them in April.”
Of course, in the end, what they really should do is make a beer with more flavor. Because Man Law #1 honestly should be “No one, man or woman, should ever drink a light — or lite — beer … ever.”