Miller Needs A Blue Collar Agency

Ad Age reports that Crispin Porter + Bogusky staffers will go back to drinking Fat Tire and other kind beers, effective immediately.

“We just have fundamental differences over creative and strategy,” Alex Bogusky, chief creative officer at Crispin, said in a statement released this afternoon. “And although we made every attempt to find common ground, the process of multilayered approvals of creative and strategy has made doing work we can be proud of increasingly difficult. So it seems to be in the best interest of both parties to part ways. We wish them the very best.”

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. daveednyc says:

    Wow. This is more than just a perfunctory “we’re no longer doing business with the client” press release. CP+B is basically warning other agencies that Miller will make you produce crap. Of course, there are plenty of agencies that won’t care and will chase after the dollars instead.
    But if CP+B represents some sort aspirational “creative standard” for some agencies, the message is: if you truly want to be proud of what you do, you might have to risk kicking lucrative clients like Miller to the curb.

  2. Carl LaFong says:

    I don’t know that such an announcement is entirely unprecedented, Dave. I seem to recall other agencies offering similar explanations when parting with clients.
    Two questions come to mind:
    1. Did Crispin resign Miller on principle alone — or did they just want to save face by quitting before the client could fire them? I have no idea just how shaky their grasp on the account was, but I can’t imagine the high muckety-mucks at Miller were thrilled by steadily declining sales.
    2. Does this mean that Crispin was not “proud” of “Man Laws?” Was their concept diluted by the approval process and an overly cautious client? Or did they enjoy greater freedom at first — only to have their creative license revoked once the campaign tanked?
    Regardless, I imagine taking a piece of Nike from Weiden will ease the sting a bit.

  3. Hey, sometimes, clients and agencies just don’t mesh, and it’s best to part ways.
    I’m not sure that the tone of the piece is as… “nice” as it could have been, but whatever. To each his own. Even if Miller was a pain to work with, I don’t think it is ever a good idea to imply that a client’s direction is sub-standard or that they are difficult to work with. (A press release is certainly not the place for it.) Not very professional, in my book… but everyone slips up every once in a while.

  4. A couple of points I’d like to make:
    1. Miller forced them to change away from Man Laws. Declining sales will do that. If you recall, they did the “GHT” interim campaign to fill the gap. It was fine. Not good, not bad.
    2. Miller decided to make a campaign themselves. Not a good sign for CPB. “Resigned” the account is probably pretty liberal use of the word resign.
    3. I think that CPB was probably unprepared or unwilling to deal with a client like Miller, who has a bad quarter and responds by changing directions at the whim of bottlers/distributors. Beer is a hard business. Especially big beer that won’t stick to their decisions and ride them out.
    4. Fallon had a similar experience. They went from “Dick” to “True Pilsner Taste” virtually overnight. Then lost the account to Ogilvy. Nature of the account.
    So the lesson to whoever gets it: don’t renovate based on the addition of the account, since it won’t be around long.

  5. I have some insight on the Fallon situation, having been in the beer business during the time the “Dick” spots were running.
    The campaign disappeared because it was actually driving customers away from the brand. After the campaign had been on the air for close to a year, a group of spots (along with work from Miller’s competitors) was shown to focus groups around the country. Every one of the groups – and that is not overstatement – said the following: they really loved the ads…thought the ads were very funny…and the campaign made them not want to buy Miller Lite.
    How could they love the ads so much, but be turned off to buying the beer? Because the campaign was telling these guys, “Miller is for weirdos”. That’s a direct quote.
    In trying to be memorably wacky, oddball characters were cast for the spots. And in group after group, mainstream beer drinkers pointed those actors out as the reason Miller Lite wasn’t for them – they didn’t want to be one of the “weirdos” who drank Miller Lite. They wanted to be the funny, regular dudes who got the girls in the Bud Light spots.
    Something CP&B does well is advertising that shouts out, “Look at how different (i.e. odd) we are!” But most people don’t want to be different. Creatives need to think about who the audience is – and who they want to be.