TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. Celebrates 40 Years of Miller Lite With ‘Brewed Different’

By Erik Oster Comment

TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. launched a new campaign for Miller Lite, celebrating the brand’s fortieth anniversary with “Brewed Different.”

“40 Years” takes a look back at the inception of the brand, when Miller Lite invented the dubious American Light (or Lite) Lager category. (This is actually an oversimplification, as according to Garret Oliver‘s The Oxford Companion to Beer, Coors originally brewed a lager called Coors Light in the 1940s, which was discontinued at the beginning of World War II and later brought back in 1978.) At any rate, Miller has the most well-known stake to the claim and undoubtedly popularized the unfortunate style with its introduction of Lite nationally in 1975, itself a rebranding of Meister Brau Lite (following Miller’s purchase of Meister Brau). Marketers assumed at the time that men would shy away from a “Diet Beer” (as the failure of Rheingold Brewery’s Gablinger’s Diet Beer had attested) and instead successfully got the public to purchase a lower alcohol (and calorie) version of its lager with the Lite label. So the spot’s “original light beer” claim would probably be best described as “mostly true.” The ad’s other contention, that Miller Lite is “spelled different because it is different” also has a grain of truth to it, since it is brewed with a different adjunct (corn) than its chief competitor Bud Light (which uses rice).

Two other spots also celebrate the brand’s history, with “L-I-T-E” proudly proclaiming, “When you make something first, you can spell it however you want.” Another half-truth (at best, in this case) forms the basis of “Sign,” which refers to Milwaukee as “Beertown, U.S.A.,” a claim the city earned when it was home to four of the country’s largest breweries — Miller, Pabst, Schlitz and Blatz — but rings significantly less true today. The ad equates a neon Miller Lite sign to the city’s equivalent of the Hollywood sign. It’s not a bad approach for the brand, which certainly has a more positive past than future, at least domestically, thanks to the flourishing craft scene. Unlike Budweiser, which has consistently attacked such smaller scale rivals (while also purchasing small breweries at an increasing rate), Miller instead uses the anniversary of its Lite brand (not rebranded as Miller Lite until the late nineties) as an opportunity to celebrate its history and its claims to nebulous titles. 

AGENCY: TBWA \ Chiat \ Day Los Angeles
Chief Creative Officer: Stephen Butler
Executive Creative Director: Linda Knight
Creative Director: Dave Horton, Matthew Woodhams-Roberts
Senior Copywriter: Robert Cuff
Senior Art Director: Mariota Essery
Chief Production Officer: Tanya LeSieur
Director of Production: Brian O’Rourke
Executive Producer: Anh-Thu Le
Broadcast Producer: Aileen Baliat
Executive Project Manager: Alice Pavlisko
Managing Director: Christian Stein
Group Account Director: Chris Hunter
Account Supervisor: Tommy Cottam
Account Executive: Emily Peck
Chief Strategy Officer: Nick Barham
Planning Director: Gary Klugman
Senior Social Strategist: Jessica Rudis
Planner: Dena Yago
Director of Business Affairs: Linda Daubson
Business Affairs: Manager Dorn Reppert

Edit: WhiteHouse Post LA
Editor: Brandon Porter
Assistant Editor: Lauren Richardson

Post FX: Carbon LA

Music: Good Ear Music
Music Supervisor: Andrew Kahn

Sound Design: Stimmung
Sound Designer: Gus Koven

Final Mix: Eleven Sound
Mixer: Jeff Payne