Miller’s ‘Dick’ May Have Had His Day

Fallon, Wieden Scramble To Create New Ads For The Brewer
CHICAGO–Miller Brewing appears set to pull the plug on one of the
most controversial and lauded beer campaigns of the past decade:
the hugely unconventional “Dick” ads for Miller Lite.
The brewery has maintained that its advertising would continue to “evolve,” but vice president of marketing Jack Rooney last week told wholesalers that both the Miller Lite campaign from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, and the Miller Genuine Draft campaign via Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., were not working and could be thrown out in favor of something new, sources said.
“Dick is done, finished,” one wholesaler said, summarizing Rooney’s remarks. New creative is due in March.
There was no sign, however, that Miller would drop either agency, nor that it would necessarily walk away from the “Miller Time” umbrella.
Miller representative Susan Henderson confirmed that the meeting included a talk by Rooney on ads but declined to elaborate.
Sources said Miller has sought outside ideas and may be looking to enlist other agencies. Speculation centered on Young & Rubicam in New York, which handles Miller’s Molson brand, and Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, former agency for Stroh’s. The latter shop’s chairman, Hal Riney, who covets the category, and Rooney are known to be close.
“We’re absolutely committed to Fallon McElligott and Wieden & Kennedy,” Henderson said.
Fallon’s work, which initially included some truly weird spots–one mixing a magician, hamsters and underarm hair–has become more mainstream. One recent ad, “Twist,” features a befuddled man dancing to open his beer. The campaign has won numerous industry plaudits. Among them: three golds this year at Cannes, where it was also a runner-up for the Grand Prix, and a gold Clio. But while ads from both shops have been among the ad industry’s most talked-about efforts, sales have faltered.
“Both those brands had so far to go to wake up younger drinkers and they’ve done that,” said a source close to Miller. “But they haven’t created the link to ‘Now let’s drink the brand.'”
David Lubars, creative director at Fallon, said wholesale changes were not in the works for Miller Lite’s campaign. “We’re trying to make sure they’re as strong as they can be,” he said.
Wieden could not be reached for comment. –with Jane Irene Kelly