A Holiday Message from Our Sponsor – 2015

The story behind the ad below…


Back in the early 70s, the Miller Brewing Company had acquired Meister Brau Lite, and was looking for a good way to promote the rebranded “Lite” beer. How do you get beer drinkers to go for what is essentially a “diet” beer? Miller’s ad agency, McCann-Erickson, came up with the idea of getting famous “tough guy” athletes to be in the ads.

Football great Matt Snell did the honors in the first ad in the campaign:

The campaign took off, and went national in 1975. Miller asked McCann-Erickson to remind people that the beer also tasted great (or at least no worse than regular Miller). NBA player/coach Tommy Heinsohn argued the point with former NBA referee Mendy Rudolph, and before anyone knew it, the “Less filling / Tastes Great” slogan went viral:

The ads went for the funny bone, as athletes (and other famous tough guys like writer Mickey Spillane) poked fun at themselves.

Bubba Smith loved the easy opening cans:

Baseball “legend” Marv Throneberry was worried about his possible effect on Miller:

George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin stopped fighting long enough to do an ad together:

To this day, I remember boxing great Joe Frazier not for his prowess in the ring, but for this musical number:

Like Bubba Smith, Pro Bowling great Don Carter also loved the easy opening cans:

Hockey great (and flake) Pete Stemkowski said he’d only do a spot if Miller let him tell a Polish joke. They must have agreed, since after making the pitch, “Stemmer” told a joke – in Polish. It wasn’t translated, but when Canadian hockey legends Jacques Plante and Bernie “Boom-Boom” Geoffrion had the “Less filling / Tastes great” argument in French, there were subtitles.

Eventually, they had a large enough collection of athletes under contract so they started doing “reunion” spots. This was the first one, which aired in 1977:

I don’t know the year that this Christmas ad ran, but you could probably date it according to the people who appeared in it:

Larry Csonka
Boog Powell
Bubba Smith
Jim Honochick (baseball umpire)
“Grits” Gresham
Steve Mizerak
Carlos Palomino
Billy Martin
John Madden
Tommy Heinsohn
Marv Throneberry

And this year, may you indeed get everything you want in a holiday season…

And more….

(More on the ad campaign here: http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/63816024)

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One thought on “A Holiday Message from Our Sponsor – 2015

  1. Pingback: 2015 In Review | Pure Blather

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