Ad Agency Drops Miller

Miller Brewing has lost its ad agency.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky has resigned its Miller Brewing Co. business, ending one of the beer industry’s highest-profile but unsuccessful client-agency pairings.

Citing “fundamental differences over creative and strategy,” Alex Bogusky, Crispin’s chief creative officer, said the brewer and agency are parting ways. He added that the two “made every attempt to find common ground.”

After being tapped as Miller Lite’s shop last year, Crispin produced the brewer’s “Man Laws” campaign, which it said was an attempt to build “social currency” for Lite using humorous concept spots starring celebrities such as Burt Reynolds and football star Jerome Bettis.

The ads generated buzz and seemed to penetrate pop culture, but did a poor job of selling beer. Miller Lite sales declined during 2006 as sales for rivals Bud Light and Coors Light grew. Miller scrapped the Man Laws campaign in January.

Miller recently has been running self-produced ads touting its calorie-and-carbohydrate advantages over other beers. When asked last week why Crispin had not created the spots, a spokesman said the shop was “busy” producing the brand’s next full-scale campaign.

According to industry insiders, Miller wanted them to create ads which were not only appealing to consumers, but to distributors and retailers as well. In a industry that relies heavy on independent distributors and retailers, who ultimately set pricing and display space, the beer business is unique in needing to “advertise” above and beyond the consumer. Crispin may have disagreed with this notion, calling the reason for exist “fundamental differences.”

“We just have fundamental differences over creative and strategy,” Alex Bogusky, chief creative officer at Crispin, said in a statement released this afternoon. “And although we made every attempt to find common ground, the process of multilayered approvals of creative and strategy has made doing work we can be proud of increasingly difficult. So it seems to be in the best interest of both parties to part ways. We wish them the very best.”