Ogilvy Gets Help on Miller Lite

Ogilvy & Mather has turned to members of its creative freelance network, Syndicate, for a new set of Miller Lite TV spots, some of which are now in production, sources said.

Ogilvy in New York has been searching for a winning ad formula for the troubled brand since being handed the account just more than a year ago. The agency enlisted several Syndicate shops earlier this year in an effort to develop a strategic platform and creative executions for Miller Lite, sources said.

Among those believed to be involved are Work in Richmond, Va., Core in St. Louis and Hunt Adkins in Minneapolis, according to sources. Other Syndicate shops are Grant, Scott & Hurley in San Francisco, Pyro Brand Development in Dallas and VitroRobertson in San Diego.

At least one spot was shot last week in Toronto, sources said. Agency officials declined comment; a representative for the Milwaukee brewery could not be reached.

Some of the spots were directed by John O’Hagan from production house Hungry Man in New York, who has lensed ads for clients such as MTV and Pizza Hut, as well as Fallon’s recent “Cat Herders” spot for Electronic Data Systems.

Ogilvy’s first series of ads broke in the spring—nine months after the shop won the $100 million account—with the tagline, “Grab a Miller Lite. It’s Miller time.” The spots were more mainstream than the brand has received in recent years, featuring men in a hungry search for sports and beer, along with plenty of busty women.

J. Walter Thompson, which got the Miller Genuine Draft business when Ogilvy won Miller Lite, broke its “Genuine opportunity” effort in January, using similar humor.

MGD is thought to be on course by executives at Miller Brewing, but Miller Lite has remained adrift, said sources. While some said the brand’s problems go beyond advertising, others said Miller Lite was left without a solid strategic footing by uneven efforts from Ogilvy predecessor Fallon, starting with the “Dick” work and ending with a return to the “All-Star” strategy