A Stick In Bud Light’s Eye

Miller Brewing took out a full page ad in USA TODAY today to congratulate A-B.
This is what it says:

Did you really spend $18 million on the big game?
Congratulations on your USA TODAY Ad Meter success, Bud Light. This certainly calls for beer. An award winning beer. A beer with more taste and half the carbs of Bud Light.
A nice cold Miller Lite.

Ninety million plus people aren’t going to see this print ad, but for the hundreds of thousands who do, it’s a message that works pretty well.
The message I take away is Miller focuses on making beer while Bud prefers to make 30-second adverts meant to appeal to the frat boy within.
[UPDATE] There’s more. Miller also released this YouTube video featuring their route drivers chatting around the proverbial beer cooler.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. David,
    The message I take away is that Miller is too cheap to run a Super Bowl ad, and hopes to hijack Bud’s success by running a lame print ad that will not sell a single can of Miller Lite. Remember when Miller Lite produced award-winning work that the public adored and talked about? Well, the public doesn’t remember. And this print ad hardly moves the brand back in the popular direction.

  2. Good point. They did make some great ads back in the day.
    I don’t think this is a “lame” print ad though.

  3. agree with highjive. miller seems to have really lost the proverbial plot, marketingwise. they’re purely talking to themselves and their wholesalers.
    but i’m sure they’re high-fiving each other in Milwaukee for being such rebels.

  4. actually, they’re probably high-fiving for increasing their sales. and what’s Bud doing? oh, that’s right. they’re helping people fly. yeah, that was a great ad that made absolutely no sense. talk about losing “the proverbial plot, marketingwise.” which reminds me. i wonder how budtv’s doing these days.
    highjive: you truly care that miller was “too cheap” to run a Super Bowl ad? that’s not exactly my concern when i walk down the beer aisle at Binny’s.

  5. forgot to mention: running an ad does NOT constitute being successful. and i don’t recall anyone anywhere ever “adoring” an ad. people hate ’em till the super bowl. then they just complain on monday about how bad they were.

  6. you don’t recall anyone ever “adoring” an ad. really? ever?

  7. I’m impressed that Miller put this spot together overnight. That’s internet speed at its best, and we rarely see that from a major marketer. Approvals alone on something like this would normally take weeks. This spot was written during the game last night, rehearsed and shot after the game, edited in the wee hours of the night and approved by the crack of dawn.

  8. Wow, budsucks, are you part of the braintrust behind Miller’s post-Super Bowl hype? Whatever.
    Maybe we’re talking semantics, but the “Tastes Great, Less Filling” campaign was adored by the public. Or insert the positive descriptor of your choice.
    Like it or not, Budweiser is consistently capturing the public’s attention, enthusiasm and patronage via its branding during the Super Bowl and throughout the year. And they’ve done it for many years. It will be a long time before the iconic status of the Clydesdales is overtaken by the Miller truck driver, personable as he may be.
    David, I’m not quite as amazed as you are regarding Miller’s quick turnaround. It’s not exactly the first time something like that’s been done. Hell, you could argue Disney does it every year after a big sporting event—I’m going to Disneyland! That’s the thing about today’s new media and hyper-speed. Just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done. Do you really think the public is interested in seeing someone talking about commercials? If so, Bob Garfield’s Ad Age blathering would be the most popular viral video since the Subservient Chicken, Obama Girl or Chocolate Rain.
    IMHO, the Miller response work symbolizes the brand’s inherent problem: The leaders showed up at the Super Bowl and entertained the world, while the other guys sat around and talked about it the next day. Lame.

  9. cptn123490 says:

    I think High Jive must work for Budweiser…
    it seems to me like Miller did a pretty good job with this ad.

  10. cptn123490,
    Actually, I wish I were working for Budweiser, as I’d probably make more money. But it just ain’t so. Rather, I make a distinction between messages that are relevant and meaningful to consumers versus being relevant and meaningful to corporations. I might grudgingly agree there is inherent cleverness to the Miller efforts. But it’s more relevant and meaningful to people in the advertising and marketing business versus real people. As even budsucks realizes, real people don’t obsess about ads like we do. I’m not convinced real people will look at the Miller stuff and be entertained or persuaded to feel good about the brand. But as always, that’s just my opinion.

  11. HighJive must work ON Budweiser. There’s no other reason someone would defend those terrible ads. Or, has HighJive calls them, “relevant and meaningful”.

  12. budsucks,
    Are you a recovering alcoholic? Or perhaps you’re too wound up in the specificity of words. If the Bud spots were not relevant and meaningful, they would not have scored so consistently well in nearly every poll out there. Relevant and meaningful in this case can simply mean tapping into the target’s sense of humor. Again, like it or not, people do adore the Clydesdales. And personally, I think the Will Ferrell spots were far funnier than the flame-breather and flying guy spots. Also, I do not work on Budweiser. Finally, I liked the FedEx spot and the Coke spot better than the Bud spots.

  13. @ HighJive –
    I don’t think what Disney does post-game equates to the Miller spot. The level of complication is much higher here.
    p.s. I too thought maybe you were on the Bud account, but I’ll take your word for it 😉

  14. I actually agree with you on one thing HighJive: The Will Ferrell spot was funny. But I think that was less about the agency doing any writing or concepting and more about someone putting Ferrell in front of a camera and yelling “Go!”.
    And for the record, I’m not a recovering alcoholic. Just an alcoholic.

  15. @ veedub and budsucks –
    here’s an ad to adore: “Move” by Nike

  16. Yeah, the young beer drinkers are all reading USA Today. great media strategy Miller.
    Miller know they can’t compete with A-B on pretty much any dimension. being snarky and negative is the last resort of category losers.

  17. All bud/miller preferences aside…if you ask me this whole thing started with a simple creative brief at Miller:
    “Gentlemen, the competition is about to spend a boatload of money, as they always do during the game. How best can we piggyback on that?”
    Nothing revolutionary there. But not an entirely bad undertaking, either. And very economical. The question for us ad guys, then, is just this:
    Did they do a good job of it? Does anyone like it? Are people talking about it (not ad guys)? Is it endearing or fun or cool in any way?
    Overall, I think the creative solutions they (the client) chose to meet this brief are a bit ham-fisted. I wish they were more entertaining and maked me like Miller more. I wish they’d act more like a person I want to hang out with and less like an insecure guy with a chip on his shoulder who wants everyone to buy into his conspiracy theory.
    From a beer brand positioning point of view, I’ll take Will Ferrrel being a goof over low carb/taste claims any day. It’s beer, not an energy bar.
    (P.S. I’m not a current Bud or Miller guy, if it matters. The last beer I had was a Kroenenbourg (sp?).)

  18. It’s a similar thing you do when Fox says no political advertising for the super bowl. You buy local time during the pregame.
    In a bid to pile up political points in the Bay State, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is spending big money to advertise locally during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
    Now you can vote for him because he knows how to get around decisions by the big time broadcasters.
    or not vote for him because it somehow seems lame.
    Not that I am asking high jive, but how does he call it?

  19. Or if you go to the polls at all today, republicans or democrat, you are essentially voting for a poster child to portray America. And I am cool with that because that’s the way it should be. We get what we get.
    Cause politics don’t ever change, only the labels on the beer.
    Fresh mountain water, hops and, grain, malt.
    It all gives us that inner glow and enlightenment, and trim figure, and veritas, no.. no… no… that’s wine.
    Beer gives us honest blatherings. There is not one reinheit gebot displayed at the courthouse in this country.

  20. wrigley58 says:

    AB pays to be the exclusive alcohol beverage sponser of the Super Bowl…so Miller cant advertise on the broadcast so they have to resort to more guerella tactics