“Man up!” barks the fearsome voiceover on the Miller Lite ad.
As a devoted fan of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, I’ve watched a slew of these ads this season; Miller Lite is TUF’s sole beer sponsor.
So for months, I’ve watched hapless guys get chastised by hot chick bartenders for not choosing the light beer with more taste (that would be Miller Lite, of course).
Recently, the brand upped the babe factor for their summer promotional campaign. Their pitch team? The “Miller Liteguards,” a group of — wait for it — beach babes in bathing suits who save men from un-manly behaviour.
As creative strategies go, it’s a cliché. It harkens back to the Charles Atlas ads that ran in comic books. Remember those? The ones that promised to make you a man in seven days.
The approach panders to the audience’s insecurity. It’s tired, it’s obvious, and it’s insulting to the people Miller Lite is targeting. Plus, it’s probably ineffective. Are you really going to shame anyone into choosing your fizz over something very similar using an unoriginal, unmemorable approach?
Say you’re selling something a lot more costly, and considered, than a six-pack. Like professional services. Or technology. Or anything that involves a lengthy, thoughtful purchase cycle. Do you think you’ll achieve your goals by marketing your product the same way?
If you took all the ads in your category — including your own — stripped out all the branding and ID marks, and mixed them up, could you tell the difference between the products? As we’ve discovered over and over at Quarry, emotions still influence a purchase decision, even in a complex buying scenario.
Step outside the clichés of your category. Create something that will create a difference for your product. That’s what Bud Light did with its Real Men of Genius radio campaign.
It’s a few years old now, but that campaign broke away from the old beer ad standbys of hot chicks and displays of dude-liness in a brilliant way. Playing over an audio bed of a spoofed, 80s power-ballad, the tongue-in-cheek voiceover celebrated obscure “heroes” like Mr. Hair Gel Overgeller, Mr. Fancy Coffee Shop Coffee Pourer and Mr. Tiny Dog Clothes Manufacturer. You can read about the campaign on Wikipedia, or just Google “Bud Light Real Men of Genius” and visit any of the fan sites to hear the spots.
Listeners loved them. They couldn’t wait for the next installment. The ads were so popular, bootleg recordings were sold on eBay. Seriously. People were paying for ads. Now that’s different.
The client and the agency knew they had a winner; they produced over 200 spots. And boy, did it win. To date, it’s the most awarded radio campaign ever.
In the alcoholic beverage industry, it’s commonly accepted that the flavor of the beer is in the advertising. Thus, Bud Light and Miller Lite: two similar products with similar target audiences. But two very different creative approaches.
If you were scanning the beer aisle looking for your summer suds, which brand would leave a better taste in your mouth?