Monsters Run Amok for Mike’s

NEW YORK — In the newest installment of the Mike’s Hard Lemonade campaign, nobody is impaled, and limbs aren’t amputated.

But ape-like aliens do kidnap a man’s wife, and a male office worker sprouts a head that leers and belches.

The 30-second TV spots are by Cliff Freeman and Partners, which won the $15 million account in December 2000. The work retains the tagline, “A hard day calls for a hard lemonade.”

In the aliens spot, after hairy, headless monsters abduct the man’s wife, an onlooker remarks, “Wow, that sucks. Looks like you could use a Mike’s Hard Lemonade.” Cut to a bar, where one of the aliens steals the bottle of Mike’s from the husband’s hand.

Another ad shows “Jim” in a cubicle telling a female colleague that he grew a “second evil head,” which ogles her when she offers to buy Jim a Mike’s Hard Iced Tea (a recent line extension).

The campaign targets 21- to 29-year-old beer-drinking males. The spots broke recently on Fox Sports Net, ESPN and Comedy Central; a third ad, in which a fellow discovers an alien is inside his body, breaks in early May, said a source.

Last year’s effort showed a construction worker being impaled and a logger accidentally chopping off his foot. Those spots ended in a pub with the victims cheerfully enjoying the product.

But sources said that approach was considered by some to be too dark for post-Sept. 11 advertising. “Our strategy hasn’t changed,” said Todd Martin, the client’s vp of marketing. “They’re lighter humor versus dark humor.” He declined further comment.