1992 commercial for Miller Lite.
Miller Lite is a 4.2% abv pale lager brand sold by Miller Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. Sibling beers include Miller Genuine Draft and Miller High Life.
Essentially the first mainstream light beer, Miller Lite has a colorful history. After its first inception as “Gablinger’s Diet Beer,” which was created in 1967 by Joseph L. Owades, a biochemist working for New York’s Rheingold Brewery, the recipe was given (by the inventor of the light beer process) to one of Miller’s competing breweries, Chicago’s Meister Brau, which came out with the Meister Brau “Lite” brand in the late 1960s. When Miller acquired Meister Brau’s labels the recipe was reformulated and relaunched as “Lite Beer from Miller” in the test markets of Springfield, IL and San Diego, CA in 1973, and heavily marketed using masculine pro sports players and other macho figures of the day in an effort to sell to the key beer-drinking male demographic. Miller’s approach worked where the two previous light beers had failed, and Miller’s early production totals of 12.8 million barrels quickly increased to 24.2 million barrels by 1977 as Miller rose to 2nd place in the American brewing marketplace. Other brewers responded, especially Anheuser-Busch with its heavily advertised Bud Light in 1982, which eventually overtook Lite in 1994. In 1992 light beer became the biggest domestic beer in America.
In 2008, Miller Brewing Company test-marketed three craft beers – an amber, a blonde ale, and a wheat – under the Miller Lite brand, marketed as Miller Lite Brewers Collection.
Miller Lite at one point contained several ingredients not normally found in beer, including manufactured chemical additives. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reported in 1982 that Miller Lite contained propylene glycol alginate (a seaweed extract), water, barley malt, corn syrup, chemically modified hops extracts, yeast, amyloglucosidase, carbon dioxide, papain enzyme, liquid sugar, potassium metabisulfite, and Emka malt (a food coloring). Today, the company claims their beverage contains water, corn, malted barley, and hops.
Per 12 ounce serving, Miller Lite contains:
- 3.2 grams of carbohydrates
- 96 calories
- 4.2% ABV
- 0.9 grams of protein
Miller Lite’s long-running “Great Taste…Less Filling!” advertising campaign was ranked by Advertising Age magazine as the 8th best advertising campaign in history. In the prime of the campaign, television commercials typically portrayed a Miller Lite drinker noting its great taste followed by another who observed that it was less filling. This usually led to a parody of Wild West saloon fights in which every patron got involved in the dispute for no real reason, though in this case it was always a shouting match, and blows were never thrown. The campaign was developed by the ad agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide.
As part of this campaign, Miller Brewing ran a series of highly distinctive television commercials in the winter of 1993–1994 showing several fictitious “extreme sports” such as “Wiener Dog Drag Racing” (which featured two wiener dogs racing each other at a drag racing strip), “Sumo High Dive” (which depicted a Japanese sumo wrestler diving off a platform) and “The Miss Perfect Face-Off” (which featured beauty pageant contestants playing ice hockey). The tag line that followed was, “If you can combine great taste with less filling, you can combine anything.”
In 1996, Miller Lite ran the “Life Is Good” campaign, which showed Miller Lite drinkers’ aspirational transition to more fun via a Miller Lite bottle tap, like “Beach Rewind,” where three men on a beach admired three beautiful women walking by, and could rewind, and enjoy, the scene repeatedly. The campaign was developed by Leo Burnett Company, and received the American Marketing Association EFFIE award for outstanding advertising effectiveness. The campaign included celebrities such as Larry Bird, Keith Jackson, and Richard Karn.
Beginning January 12, 1997, a series of surreal Miller Lite ads, purportedly made by a man named “Dick”, began to air. They were hallmarked as such either at the beginning or the end of the commercial. The series of “Dick” commercials was directed by Gerald Casale of the new wave band Devo. Such commercials include one where a middle-aged man sees the message “twist to open” on a Miller Lite bottlecap, and he proceeds to do the Twist.
In 2002, “Catfight”, another high-profile commercial in the long-running “Great Taste…Less Filling” campaign, was denounced by critics as depicting women as sexual objects.
In 2006, Miller Lite had an advertising campaign called Man Laws featuring celebrities that include actor Burt Reynolds, professional wrestler Triple H, comedian Eddie Griffin, and former American football player Jerome Bettis. The celebrities and along with other actors were in a “Men of the Square Table”, a group meeting where they discuss different situations that should be included in the “Man Laws”. The ads were developed by the ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky/Miami, and were directed by comedy film director Peter Farrelly.
In the sport of NASCAR, Miller began advertising their Miller Genuine Draft beer on the #27 Pontiac of Rusty Wallace (later #2). Wallace switched to a Ford in 1994, and Miller switched their sponsorship to Miller Lite a couple years later in 1997. That sponsorship continues to this day, now on the #2 Dodge, driven by Kurt Busch, after Wallace retired in 2005.
Other promotion in motor sports included the sponsoring of Don Prudhomme’s Larry Dixon-driven NHRA top fuel dragster from 1997-2007. Prior to that, Dixon was sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft.
Info gleaned from Wikipedia