Jeff Swartz on the next big thing in media

Touching on everything and anything to do with media, advertising, and marketing

Milwaukee Journal Sentinal Interviewed me About Miller Lite Man Laws Ad Campaign

miller-lite-logo2.JPGI wrote about the Miller Lite Man Laws commercials in a post back in June. Last week I received a phone call from Tom Daykin, a journalist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Daykin was writing an article about the Miller Lite Men of the Square Table commercials and he came across my website. He wanted to interview me not only because I am going into the field of advertising and have already researched and wrote about Miller Lite’s Man Laws, but because I fall into the target audience for the commercials (21-27 year old males).

The article came out today and before lunch rolled around I received an email from a Miller National Concessions and Military Manager, Mark Neuwirth, in reference to the article. Making connections, such as this, was one of my goals during my internship, but I never thought it would be with anyone outside of Dayton, Ohio. All of this excitement with Miller is starting to wear on my loyalty to Bud Light. The least I can do is buy a case of Miller Lite. We’ll just see what beer I drink from there.

Also my internship boss at The Next Wave, David Esrati, wrote about my little fifteen minutes of fame on the next wave blogging site.

I have resently discovered that the article is also posted MarketingPower.com News. For this website click here.

The Article:

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Miller Lite Man Laws rewrite the book on beer commercials

By TOM DAYKIN
tdaykin@journalsentinel.com
Posted: July 24, 2006

The world is full of laws: laws of nature (Sir Isaac Newton, apple falling from the tree, etc.), constitutional law (go ahead, burn a flag) and Murphy’s Law (as in: assembling a child’s toy on the night before Christmas).

And now, we have Man Laws.

Those are the pronouncements of the Men of the Square Table, Miller Lite’s panel of 10 famous and not-so-famous men.

Is it time to retire the high-five? Absolutely, the Men declare in one TV commercial – but only after a suitable replacement can be found.

OK to date your best friend’s ex-girlfriend? Only after six months, they say – and only if she’s drop-dead gorgeous.

“People are paying attention to these ads,” said Peter Marino, spokesman for Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co., which counts Miller Lite as its most popular brew.

Of course, you’d expect a Miller spokesman to say that. But others are saying it, too.

Trade publication Ad Week’s Web site calls the campaign “slightly more thoughtful” than your run-of-the-mill beer ad. The New York Times says the spots “add threads of thought” to the beer business.

Then there’s blogger Jeff Swartz, a Dayton, Ohio, college student whose age and gender land him squarely in Miller Lite’s targeted demographic.

“The commercials are funny and effective,” said Swartz, 21, who’s pursuing a career in advertising. He posted an item about the campaign on his Web log, www.swartzonmedia.wordpress.com, after repeatedly hearing friends quote lines from the TV spots.

The spots featuring The Men of the Square Table, led by actor Burt Reynolds, have been such hits since their mid-May debut that Miller and its advertising agency for Miller Lite, Miami-based Crispin Porter & Bogusky, are producing another series of spots, Marino said. Those new ads will begin running in late August and will include a new member of the Men of the Square Table, chosen from videos submitted to Miller by ordinary guys.

Another big component of the campaign is its Web site, www.manlaws.com.The site includes a “Manlawpedia,” a book of Man Laws that allows visitors to the site to add their own judgments. As of Monday, it totaled 27,747 Man Laws, including such gems as “Unless a native of Denmark, no man shall wear clogs,” and, “On a road trip, the strongest bladder determines the pit stops, not the weakest.”

Since being activated in May, manlaws.com has recorded 13.3 million total visits, including more than 542,000 unique visits, Marino said.

Miller has been working to revive Miller Lite – which accounts for 40% of its sales volume – with a series of marketing campaigns since 2003.

Marino said it’s still too early to say whether the Man Laws campaign is having a direct impact on Miller Lite sales. The most recent figures, compiled by Chicago-based Information Resources Inc., show that volume sales of Miller Lite in the nation’s supermarkets and drugstores declined slightly, by 0.4%, during the 52-week period ending June 18.

That data doesn’t include beer sales from other retailers, such as liquor stores, convenience stores, restaurants and taverns. But it does offer a rough indication of the brand’s performance. A clearer picture of the Man Laws campaign will emerge this summer, as the nation’s brewers wrap up their peak selling season.

However, the Man Laws campaign does appear to be giving Miller the type of water cooler value it hasn’t routinely enjoyed in recent years, said Milwaukee ad executive Dave Hanneken.

“People do notice” the Man Laws spots, said Hanneken, president of Kohnke Hanneken Inc.

But Hanneken and Steve Eichenbaum, president of Eichenbaum & Associates Inc., another local advertising agency, both have doubts about the campaign’s impact.

Hanneken says people he’s talked to seem a bit puzzled by the spots, which Hanneken says “fall a little flat.” Eichenbaum calls them “irritating.”

A number of bloggers, however, have posted favorable remarks about the ads. Among the campaign’s fans is Craig Peters, who operates a marketing firm in Hatboro, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, and has posted about the campaign at www.lohad.com.

The Man Laws campaign has “almost a ‘Seinfeld’ component,” Peters said in an interview, referring to the TV show known for examining unwritten rules governing dating and other matters of everyday life.

He said the spots stand out in an industry known for relying on TV ads featuring “girls with lots of cleavage and guys punching each other on the shoulder.”

Swartz, the University of Dayton student, said the ads stand out in a crowded advertising landscape. He also said critics of the ads are off base when they claim Burt Reynolds, 70, is too old to be relevant for 20-something beer drinkers.

“People my age know who Burt Reynolds is,” Swartz said. “Our moms had crushes on him, and stuff. He’s a man’s man, and that’s what (Miller) is going for.”

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July 26, 2006 - Posted by | Advertising, Diverse topics, Internet, Media 2.0, MY WORK, Television

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