First a disclaimer: The Next Wave will not work on alcohol, tobacco or paid political client. Alcohol can sell itself without our help.

Brands have life cycles- some can just keep growing with proper care and feeding, like Nike, or have ups and downs like Apple, but in general, brands do better when they don’t try to morph constantly. It’s called a consistent brand voice- and it’s an ad agencies job to help a client focus that voice and keep it above the noise of the crowd.

Wieden & Kennedy has been a star at this with Nike, and has more than it’s share of awards to back up it’s work. So what happened with Miller? After ten years of focusing that voice with the “High Life Man”- someone decided that the brand needed a sex change operation- and to toss the man- for the “girl in the moon”- which of course- lost the guys- and didn’t win over the girls. So, because the client made a bad decision, the agency has paid the price- much like VW blaming the agency for sagging sales- when the problems were tied to stale cars with low quality builds.

Once again- the winner is the agency of the millenium- Crispin Porter & Bogusky, who had revived interest in Miller Lite after Miller had left the “less filling- tastes great” campaign by the wayside.

Advertising Age - Miller Parts With Wieden

Miller Parts With Wieden
Ends Decade-Long Relationship That Created ‘High Life Man’By Jeremy Mullman

Published: September 22, 2006
CHICAGO ( — Miller Brewing Co. is splitting with Wieden & Kennedy, ending a decade-long relationship that created one of beer advertising’s enduring characters.
Ads replacing the ‘High Life Man’ with the ‘Girl in the Moon’ couldn’t help turn the brand’s sales around.
Ads replacing the ‘High Life Man’ with the ‘Girl in the Moon’ couldn’t help turn the brand’s sales around.

Girl in the Moon
The independent agency had most recently been agency of record for Miller High Life, creating the deep-voiced High Life Man who helped boost the brand’s slumping sales from 1998 through 2003, but then saw results trail off. Late last year, Miller asked Wieden to give the beer a more feminine positioning in line with its long-held “Champagne of Beers” boast, but ads tied to the “Girl in the Moon” didn’t help sales and were quickly canned. The brand has been off of TV for months.

A Miller spokesman said the company had been pleased with Wieden’s work and wished it luck going forward. Work on Miller High Life will go to Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, which is currently Miller Lite’s agency of record.

I’m not a drinker, so I can’t comment on the taste or quality proposition that Miller High Life offers, but I can suggest that beer advertising is a lifestyle brand- one that should reinforce the drinkers identity and image. There are psychographics to beer drinkers- where you can classify consumers by their brand choices: Import drinkers, Malt liquor drinkers, domestic drinkers, draft vs. bottle etc. For any beer brand to be successful, the advertising and brand voice has to speak clearly to one segment of the market and stay true to that voice. There is no switching teams, there is no one beer for everyone- and if that is your goal, your name is probably Budweiser.

To all the people at Wieden who probably knew that the “girl in the moon” was a mistake- cheers! May you get to work on a beer client who believes in their strategy enough to stick to it.