Miller High Life would like you to meet Rich, the least interesting man in the world.
The champagne of beers, absent on national TV since 2012, is returning to the airwaves Monday with a new campaign from Leo Burnett, themed "I Am Rich." The concept, on its face, is that you don't need lots of money, or fancy drinks, to be happy.
More subtly, it's also a dog-whistle shot at Dos Equis: You don't need to be an international man of mystery to have a rewarding life.
Instead of the aspirational charm of a high-flying, larger-than-life jet-setter, there's grainy footage of dive-bar billiards, shot on 35mm film, which somehow comes off as both artsy and mundane.
The core, populist idea is a nice one and makes you really want to like the ads. The opening of "Central Park," one of two spots, shows promise. It's endearing that the dude likes to think of the scraggly tree outside his window as a Fifth Avenue penthouse view. And what sane person doesn't consider his or her gregarious dog to be a butler?
Unfortunately, Rich is pretty obnoxious, thanks to purple prose masquerading as cleverness. "My helipad is being resurfaced, so tonight we travel by more humble means," says Rich. "At my country club, we play parlor games with members of the royal family."
Walking to the local dive, drinking Miller High Life, and shooting pool with the owners seems like fun. So does hanging out with Rich's dog. But listening to Rich while he's spewing anxious nonsense about how awesome his life is? Not so much.
In fact, Rich doesn't really seem that happy at all. Or maybe, the voiceover is just a little too real. The kind of deadpan inside jokes that might fly in a casual conversation among friends don't quite work as persuasive ad copy for the masses, especially when the grit and sincerity of the footage end up working against the try-hard irony of the voiceover.
The ad ends up feeling like it's mocking the demographic it's trying to court. At least Rich can rest assured that he isn't making any beer execs richer by spending what little money he has on High Life.
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