Fallon’s Miller Rescue

Pitch Did Not Go Smoothly for Incumbent
CHICAGO–Fallon McElligott’s save of the $150 million Miller Lite ad account came despite a late December meeting at which the agency did not impress client executives, sources said.
The agency worked feverishly on new creative between that meeting and Jan. 15, when its work was judged to be the best, sources said.
Fallon’s winning idea to replace the “Dick” campaign was a closely guarded secret, but one source speculated the new work would be a modern take on the ads that made the brand famous: the “All Stars” campaign featuring retired jocks and tough guys. It was not known if the “Miller Time” theme will be retained.
Officials at the Minneapolis shop would not comment beyond saying, “We are pleased to have received this vote of confidence.”
Fallon executives were said to be exhausted and euphoric after pulling off what some observers described as “the save of the century,” a statement that would appear hyperbolic if not for Fallon’s seemingly dire position when the review began. Losing would almost certainly have led to layoffs and nagging questions about Fallon’s ability to hold onto major clients. Both McDonald’s and Prudential split with the shop in the last two years.
The Milwaukee brewery said only that Fallon was retained after a “thorough and disciplined evaluation of the long-term vitality and performance of the Miller Lite brand” which included research and talking “with people whom we trust and who know the beer business.”
Fallon and finalists Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco; Square One, Dallas; and Wieden & Kennedy, New York, met executives from Miller parent Phillip Morris last week. The meeting was said to be a “check off” of the decision to stick with Fallon. Young & Rubicam, New York, was cut earlier. –with staff reports