In Miller’s Review, Connections Are Key

When Miller Brewing Co. extended its search for new marketing ideas to nonroster shops, it did not stray too far from familiar territory.

The senior creatives at two of the agencies known to be involved in the review have connections to the client, having worked on some of the brewer’s more high-profile brands.

London-based Leagas Delaney is among the four to five shops talking to Miller as the client seeks a new overarching strategy for its portfolio of brands. The president and creative director of Leagas’ U.S. outpost, in San Francisco, is Vince Engel, who worked on Miller High Life at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., when he was a creative director there in the 1990s.

Leagas also has an indirect connection to Miller: Its London office works on Pilsner Urquell, a major South African Breweries brand. SAB purchased Miller last year for $3.4 billion. Tim Delaney, the London-based Leagas chairman, is said to be involved in the Miller exercise.

Doe Anderson is another agency participating in the process, along with roster shops J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and Wieden, sources said. Jim White, chief creative officer at Louisville, Ky.-based Doe Anderson, ran a Miller creative group at the former Backer & Spielvogel in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Backer was famous for the “Tastes great, less filling” campaign for Miller Lite, which began in 1973 at McCann-Erickson and moved to Backer in 1979. He also worked on Miller Genuine Draft’s “Get out of the old, get into the cold” campaign in the mid-1990s.

The purpose of the brand-portfolio drill is to develop a rallying cry for “Millerness” in the U.S. that would not replace advertising for individual brands but instead unify them under one attitude or spirit, said sources.

Leagas and Doe Anderson execs declined comment. Miller officials did not return calls.