Oddball characters and otherwise interesting types visit their neighborhood bodega/convenience store. We get to see their personalities. We get to know the store's owner who interacts with each customer, offering advice or a bit of clever banter. There are some smiles. We are entertained.
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Absent anything to establish Lite beer as distinctive, how did these entertaining little dramas get approved by the people who are supposed to be selling Miller Lite? The answer in a word: insecurity.
When MillerCoors hired the Los Angeles ad agency responsible for this campaign, they made a big deal about how cool and hip it was. One brewery honcho even bowed to its Los Angeles home as the center of all hipness. Now, fast-forward to the same agency proposing these very hip films-as-ads. How can the people who anointed the agency go against their judgment?
And in the unlikely event some junior brewery guy had the temerity to ask, "Shouldn't we say something about what makes Miller Lite special?" the agency folks probably all rolled their eyes. Message to the clients: You hired us for hipness, and this is what it looks like. It's a Catch-22 of coolness ensnaring insecure clients.
But make no mistake, someone definitely stands to gain here. It's the agency! Their people will bask in the glow of the adulation of their peers and the advertising press who'll hail this effort as creative and artistic. Indeed, Adweek practically delivers a mini movie review:
"These eight spots have a relaxed, indie-film feel, inspired by the convenience-store settings in movies by Jim Jarmusch and the team of Wayne Wang and Paul Auster."
Trade-press accolades like that are cocaine to many ad-agency types who value their own industry reputations way above their client's business fortunes. For them, entertainment kudos like "indie-film feel" and the like are not means to an end, they are the end.
A much more useful assessment of this campaign comes from the director who made the spots, also quoted in the Adweek article. He describes the effort thusly, comparing it to pure entertainment: "It's like Sesame Street—the people in your neighborhood—except with a light beer."
(Emphasis is ours; spelling of "light" is Adweek's.)