business news in context, analysis with attitude

We reported yesterday that Miller Brewing is catching heat from some viewers upset about a new television commercial that features two beautiful women arguing about whether Miller Lite is best because it tastes great or is less filling…an argument that deteriorates (or is it escalates?) into a mud wrestling match in which they end up stripped down to scanty lingerie. The catfight is portrayed in the ad as the fantasy of two guys who say it would make a great beer commercial, as they are stared at by two women who clearly think they are the biggest morons on the planet.

Apparently, 200 viewers have complained to Miller…but 200 have written to say how much they like the ad.

We got some reaction to this ad as well…

One MNB user wrote:

“I rarely find an issue to get fired up about, but this commercial set me off the very first time I saw it- during a NFL Sunday game. Yes, I am a woman, and yes I watch football- I put up with the ads such as Coors ads which allude to how great cold beer and hot female twins are, because in the ads there is a more mainstream appeal to a broad audience and does not depict women as violent, surgically enhanced and incapable of communicating. But the Miller commercial blatantly exploits women in all those senses and more.

“I am offended that Miller and the Content Guy both allude to the fact that ‘hey it appeals to guys.’ That may be the case, but as the primary shopper for my household who makes 99% of all purchase decisions, including the beer for my 27 year old husband, the ad failed miserably at appealing to what you both should know about basic consumer buying habits/trends, women do most of the shopping. And in this case I will no longer purchase Miller products.”

And we respect that opinion.

Another MNB user wrote:

“The vote in my house is 2-1. Usually my wife votes for our 15 month old, however, in certain cases daddy gets his way and his sons vote.

“Not only is this ad much tamer than certain reality shows, it is a little less ‘sleazy’ than the Coors commercial with ‘twins’ and it has an understandable ‘spoof’ that is clearly missing in the ‘twins’ commercial..”

We would agree that the Miller ad walks a delicate line between being exploitive and ironic…to us, that’s what makes it such a terrific ad.

MNB user Ronald Cook wrote:

“Leave it to a brewing company to nail their target market right on the head. The commercial is incredible in its ability to grab everyone's (male and female) attention for the full ad. Even those who don't drink beer or care about beer will pause to watch this spot. In the advertising world, that is everything. In addition to being an attention grabber, you can actually remember the product that is being pitched when the thing is over. Miller has hit a bulls eye with this one.”

And another MNB user wrote:

“Well, I'm in the supposedly easily-offended demographic of college-educated women in their 30s, and I think it's hilarious.”

Regarding Kroger opening Food 4 Less stores in the Chicago market, one MNB user wrote:

“If their marketing strategy is really one centered primarily on being the price leader, with a typically formatted store layout, verses the current leader utilizing a "value strategy" (i.e.: quality, convenience, variety, price, location) or the "big box" concept of Cub and Sam's, They might just be right on target. The Chicago Market could use a price leader now.

“Concerning the Ahold rumor of them being interested in the Dominick chain, this could be very interesting as it rolls out. Ahold has in their employ people that know the Chicago Market very well.”

We got some email yesterday regarding our comments about Kinko’s troubles, including this one from MNB user Jane Larson:

“When I was in grad school (never mind when that was) I practically lived at Kinko's. They were smart, fast, friendly, and always made everything look better than my expectations. They had the best prices in town, too.

“So imagine my horror when I went into my local Kinko's to print my holiday letter to the relatives, which had color pictures embedded in the text. 99 cents per copy (!), and I was doing a 2 sided letter (sure, it sounds long, but the relatives love it and I happen to be a very amusing person). The manager didn't know of any available coupons and was about as helpful as a brick. I waited in a very long line for help while 3 people behind the counter talked football. So, I left, went home, found an on-line coupon (39 cents per copy, and why didn't the manager know about it and suggest that I log on to one of their computers and print one? or have some printed behind the register?), came back to Kinko's FOR THE LAST TIME EVER and printed my letter. Happy holidays to you bozos, too.

“I may be amusing, but I'm unforgiving of bad customer service.”

It’s odd when a company that was absolutely RIGHT ON in its approach to services and service suddenly seems to lose the knack, like when a .330 hitter suddenly goes into a slump. The difference is that they are going to keep pitching to the hitter, and he’ll eventually work his way out of the slump. When customers stop going to a retailer, it’s very hard to get them back in the door.

Another MNB user put it very well:

“A business plan is no substitute for vision.”

And that applies to all of us.

We wrote yesterday, in a commentary about new predictions for 2003 retail sales, that maybe in the light of current events it makes more sense not to make any predictions. Predictably, this generated some response, including this note from an MNB user:

“I agree with your assessment on this. Not having a yardstick to measure against may help the economy look beyond what it hasn't been doing and look forward to what it CAN do. Don't all the diet guru's tell you NOT to weigh yourself when you are trying to lose weight as that just make you feel like a failure?”

And another member of the MNB community wrote:

“After the recent holiday hullabaloo over the consumer spending not matching up with the retailers' forecasts one wonders if perhaps forecasts are an unrealistic measurement. In the current economic climate, success possibly should be measured by 1. Is the company still here? and 2. Did we post a profit at all? and maybe 3. How high is our debt?

“This shouldn't be confused with goals..., which should be well thought out and ambitious as well as creative. After all, if you shoot at the ground you are more than likely to hit it.”

Sounds like a good place to repeat the sentiment expressed earlier:

“A business plan is no substitute for vision.”
KC's View: