NEW YORK — Miller Brewing Co. is going after drinkers aged 21 to 25 with a pair of television commercials for its Lite beer that parody traditional consumer product ads, including rival Bud Light's ads with Spuds MacKenzie.
In one of the ads that will debut Sunday night, a clay monkey, elephant and lion dance with a Lite beer in hand while an announcer says: "Three out of four party animals preferred the taste of Miller Lite."
Bud Light, which has enjoyed double-digit sales growth recently, has heralded Spuds as the "original party animal" in its ads.
Lite is the leader in the Lite beer category, but Miller executives hope the new ads will prove more appealing to drinkers ages 21 to 25 who may not relate to the ex-sports stars in Lite's long-running "tastes great, less filling" campaign.
Miller says it has no intention of dropping the all-star campaign that Lite has used for 15 years.
In addition to the party animals, the new 30-second ads use animation and offer irreverent parodies of well-worn ad techniques.
"I'm not a beer drinker," the smooth-talking celebrity spokesman says in one of the new ads, "but I play one on TV."
Banking on Irreverence
"We are taking the position as a leader in the category that we have to stand out and take risks," Miller spokesman Bob Bertini said in a telephone interview from Milwaukee. "We think viewers will respond to it."
Lite sold 19.2 million barrels in 1987, placing second only to Budweiser, the overall best-selling beer at an estimated 50.1 million barrels, according to the trade publication Impact.
Bertini said Lite sales are up this year, but that its sales to the 21-25 age category have not increased.
These young adults may not recognize the retired celebrities in the regular Lite campaign but they may like the irreverence of the new ads, he said.
In the first commercial, a voice announces: "The new Miller Lite commercial--backed with research!"
In rapid-fire order, a man with cash under his jacket attracts some interest from two women as the announcer says, "Studies show that you're 79% more likely to meet an attractive woman while drinking a Lite long-neck . . . and carrying $1-million cash."
The commercial then cuts to a frantic party scene as the announcer asserts that Lite "is served at 87% of the parties your parents would never attend."
Both spots end with the slogan, "Only a beer that tastes this great could do a commercial like this."