Miller Lite logo
|Manufacturer||Miller Brewing Company|
|Alcohol by volume||4.2%|
Miller Lite is a 4.2% abv pale lager brand sold by MillerCoors of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Miller Lite competes with Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light beer. The company also produces Miller Genuine Draft and Miller High Life.
Miller Lite was essentially the first mainstream light beer. After its first inception as "Gablinger's Diet Beer," developed in 1967 by Blake L. Owades, a biochemist working for New York's Rheingold Brewery, the recipe was given (by the inventor of the light beer process) to one of Miller's competing breweries, Chicago's Meister Brau, which came out with the Meister Brau "Lite" brand in the late 1960s. When Miller acquired Meister Brau's labels the recipe was reformulated and relaunched as "Lite Beer from Miller" (which was its official name until the mid 80s) in the test markets of Springfield, IL, Knoxville, TN and San Diego, CA in 1973, and heavily marketed using masculine pro sports players and other macho figures of the day in an effort to sell to the key beer-drinking male demographic. Miller's approach worked where the two previous light beers had failed, and Miller's early production totals of 12.8 million barrels quickly increased to 24.2 million barrels by 1977 as Miller rose to 2nd place in the American brewing marketplace. Other brewers responded, especially Anheuser-Busch with its heavily advertised Bud Light in 1982, which eventually overtook Lite in 1994. In 1992 light beer became the biggest domestic beer in America.
Miller Lite was invented by Larry McClusky of Elm Grove, WI. Larry McClusky was a head chemist to many beer companies throughout his years. He worked in the Miller Brewery for 24 years. In 2008 Miller Brewing Company test-marketed three new recipes – an amber, a blonde ale, and a wheat – under the Miller Lite brand, marketed as Miller Lite Brewers Collection.
Miller Lite at one point contained several ingredients not normally found in beer, including manufactured chemical additives. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reported in 1982 that Miller Lite contained propylene glycol, alginate (a seaweed extract), water, barley malt, corn syrup, chemically-modified hop extracts, yeast, amyloglucosidase, carbon dioxide, papain enzyme, liquid sugar, potassium metabisulfite, and Emka malt (a food coloring).
Per 12 ounces, Miller Lite contains:
- 3.2 grams of carbohydrates
- 96 calories
- 4.2% ABV
- 0.9 gram of protein
Miller Lite won the World Beer Cup's gold medal for Best American-Style Light Lager in 1996, 1998, 2012, and 2013. It also won the Great American Beer Festival's silver medal in 2003 in the same category.
At the 2010 Great American Beer Festival, Miller Lite won the gold medal for Best American Style Lager or Light Lager, beating out Miller Genuine Draft, which received the Bronze.
Miller Lite's long-running "Great Taste...Less Filling!" advertising campaign was ranked by Advertising Age magazine as the 8th-best advertising campaign in history. The campaign was developed by the advertising agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide. In the prime of the campaign, television commercials typically portrayed a Miller Lite drinker noting its great taste followed by another who observed that it was less filling. This usually led to a parody of Wild West saloon fights in which every patron got involved in the dispute for no real reason, though in this case it was always a shouting match, and blows were never thrown. The commercials were closed with a voiceover from actor Eddie Barth, who read the slogan, "Lite Beer from Miller: Everything you've always wanted in a beer. And less.".
To attract 'Joe Sixpack' to a lite beer, these commercials started to feature both elite ex-athletes such as Ray Nitschke, Ben Davidson, and Bubba Smith, but also oddball cultural figures such as Mickey Spillane(accompanied by a blonde, Lee Meredith, who is better known for her role as Ulla, the secretary in The Producers, 1968), and most notably Rodney Dangerfield. As the series of commercials went on, it started featuring athletes and celebrities, who were not necessarily champions. Some commercials from this era include:
- Former Major League catcher and Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker being rousted from his good seat at a ballgame, and being escorted by an usher, commenting, "I must be in the front rowwwwwww", and ending up the last row of the nosebleed seats.
- In 1978 Joe Frazier, famous heavyweight boxing champion but on-screen caption says "Joe Frazier, Famous Heavyweight Singer", as part of a barbershop quartet walk into a full bar and sing to "do like Smokin' Joe" and go on to sing about its advantages. There is then a moment's silence which follows with a roar of applause. 
- Marv Throneberry, who was one of most famously hapless members of the 1962 New York Mets, wondering over and over, "I don't know why I was asked to do this commercial."
- Former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Boog Powell and former umpire Jim Honochick doing a spot together, with Honochick totally unaware whom he is standing next to, until he puts his glasses on at the end, and exclaims, "Hey - you're Boog Powell!"
- And perhaps most famously, when Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner were in the middle of their legendary 1970s era feuds, they did one with Martin saying, "Tastes great, George", and Steinbrenner replying, "Less filling, Billy!" back and forth until Steinbrenner finally says, "You're fired!" to Martin (changed to "You're hired!" when Martin was re-hired by Steinbrenner in real life), and Martin says, "Not Again!"
The number of athletes and celebrities that did these ads grew to such a number, and the popular nature of the ads, led to yearly ads featuring all of the stars, generally in some sort of competition between the 'Less Fillings' and the 'Taste Greats'. Generally the ads usually ended up having Rodney Dangerfield being somehow the goat of the losing team.
As part of this campaign, Miller Brewing ran a series of highly distinctive[according to whom?] television commercials in the winter of 1993–1994 showing several fictitious "extreme sports" such as "Wiener Dog Drag Racing" (which featured two wiener dogs racing each other at a drag racing strip), "Sumo High Dive" (which depicted a Japanese sumo wrestler diving off a platform) and "The Miss Perfect Face-Off" (which featured beauty pageant contestants playing ice hockey). The tag line that followed was, "If you can combine great taste with less filling, you can combine anything."
In 1995-1996, Miller Lite ran the "Life Is Good" campaign, which showed Miller Lite drinkers' aspirational transition to more fun via a Miller Lite bottle tap, like "Beach Rewind", where three men on a beach admired three beautiful women walking by, and could rewind, and enjoy, the scene repeatedly. The campaign was developed by Leo Burnett Company, and received the American Marketing Association EFFIE award for outstanding advertising effectiveness. The campaign included celebrities such as Larry Bird, Keith Jackson, and Richard Karn.
Beginning January 12, 1997, a series of surreal Miller Lite ads, purportedly made by a man named "Dick", began to air. They were hallmarked as such either at the beginning or the end of the commercial. The campaign was developed by Minneapolis-based ad agency Fallon. The series of "Dick" commercials was directed by Gerald Casale of the new wave band Devo. Such commercials include one where a middle-aged man sees the message "twist to open" on a Miller Lite bottle cap, and he proceeds to do the Twist.
The ad campaign changed back to using high-profile celebrities who were either on opposite ends of the spectrum or had bragging rights to exchange with the other. Notable pairings included the following:
- George Brett and Robin Yount. Brett and Yount were both elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 with 98 and 77 percent of the vote respectively while Yount won two MVP awards to Brett's one.
- Edgar Winter and George Hamilton. Winter's albinism was a stark contrast to the tanned look of Hamilton on screen.
- Ken Stabler and Dan Fouts. Stabler needles Fouts about never getting to or winning a Super Bowl while Fouts lets Stabler know about his inferior passing statistics.
In 2002, "Catfight", another high-profile commercial in the long-running "Great Taste...Less Filling" campaign, was denounced by critics as depicting women as sexual objects. The commercial featured two extraordinarily beautiful women, a blonde (Tanya Ballinger) and a brunette (Kitana Baker), discussing the classic "Great Taste/Less Filling" debate, except they both ended up stripped, soaked, beaten and covered in mud. An uncensored version of the commercial ended in the muddy beauties sharing a passionate kiss. The girls received much publicity from the commercial, and later starred in a few related commercials, videos and events.
In 2006, Miller Lite had an advertising campaign called Man Laws featuring celebrities that include actor Burt Reynolds, professional wrestler Triple H, comedian Eddie Griffin, and former American football player Jerome Bettis. The celebrities and other actors were in a "Men of the Square Table", a group meeting where they discuss different situations that should be included in the "Man Laws". The ads were developed by the ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky/Miami, and were directed by comedy film director Peter Farrelly.
Miller Brewing Company began their NASCAR sponsorship in 1990 with driver Rusty Wallace, advertising the Miller Genuine Draft brand. In 1997, the company began advertising the Miller Lite brand on Wallace's #2 car. The car later earned the nickname "Blue Deuce" due to its number and blue paint scheme. Wallace retired following the 2005 season, and Kurt Busch was named his replacement. Busch drove the "Blue Deuce" from 2006 to 2010. The car is currently driven by Brad Keselowski, who won the 2012 Sprint Cup Series championship.
- "Beer Nutrition Facts and Codes". MillerCoors. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
- Saxon, Wolfgang (December 22, 2005). "Joseph L. Owades, Developer of Recipe for Light Beer, Is Dead at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- Official Miller Lite Brewers Collection website
- Lipske, Michael. Chemical Additives in Booze. Washington, D.C.: CSPI Books, 1982. p. 86.
- "About Miller Lite". Archived from the original on 2007-05-27. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
- "TOP 100 ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS." Advertising Age. Accessed on July 2, 2006]
- Barnes, Mike (2010-06-04). "Teshome Actor Eddie Barth dies; Voiceover artist known for 1980s Miller Lite commercials". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-07-03.[dead link]
- "Miller revives "Miller Time" theme for Lite". Modern Brewery Age. 2000.
- "See Dick Make Ads". University of Iowa Department of Communication. Accessed on July 2, 2006
- "Miller Lite's 'Catfight' ad angers some viewers." USA Today. Accessed on July 2, 2006
- Miller Lite | "Unopened Beer". AdWeek. Accessed on July 2, 2006
- Official website
- Wiener Takes All: A Dogumentary at the Internet Movie Database
- Important dates in the history of Miller Brewing Co. San Antonio Express-News.