Adventures Of Kling Kong

One look at Jeff Kling, and you know the guy rages. What might not be as readily apparent is the fact he is also a man with a fancy position in advertising–executive creative director at Euro RSCG/New York, to be exact.
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A search of the Way Back Machine, reveals an interesting Willamette Week story recounting the days when Kling was a copywriter working to reinvent Miller Genuine Draft High Life at Wieden + Kennedy/Portland.

Alternating between pensive and explosive, reserved and cocky, Kling talks loud and fast. Every other word is a curse, as in: “There’s no fucking reason for Bud to be selling 38 fucking million barrels and for Miller to be selling 9 million. That’s bullshit. Complete bullshit.”
Kling and his team did some atypical market research. For starters, they subscribed to low-brow magazines designed to appeal to the testosterone humor of macho beer-swillers.
They also test-marketed Miller at some impromptu focus groups.
“I showed up at this party,” Kling says, “with two cases of Miller beer, and this mountain biker guy, this fucking Oregon cliché beer-snob idiot, starts ridiculing me for bringing that kind of beer to the party.”
From his perch in the microbrew capital of the nation, Kling saw potential for a backlash. He says the defining moment of his team’s research came when colleague John Boiler went to the Green Room, a blues bar on Northwest 23rd Avenue. “Boiler was looking at the list of beers there, and he’s like, ‘Do you have any just kind of normal beers?’ And the waitress said, ‘I know. You know, every once in a while you just want a normal, American beer.’”
“People have been taking beer way too fucking seriously,” Kling says. “Miller is just a big-ass American beer.”

About David Burn

Fired up to write it down. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Chief storyteller at Bonehook, a guide service and bait shop for brands.

  • Bob

    Man, I loved (and miss) those great Miller High Life ads and spots. BTW, it WAS Miller High Life, not Miller Genuine Draft. Anyway, that work was truly brilliant. Not only did it appeal to the type of men portrayed in the ads, but also to bohemian guys that wanted to portray a “real man/no pretentions” vibe. Viva la Kling.

  • MF

    Yeah, I miss those ads. They did shit for the beer, and actually were making fun of guys like you. Let’s hear it for advertising that ridicules people!

  • TD

    Actually, the excerpted article WAS about Wieden’s work on MGD, which predated (I think) the agency’s excellent print/TV for Miller High Life.