On January 12, 1997, like most other sports fans in the US, I was watching the NFC Championship game on Fox between the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. At some point during that game, a one minute ad for Miller Lite beer came on. Little did I realize at the time that I was witnessing the genesis of what is literally one of my favorite forgotten ad campaigns of all time….
That was the very first of what would be many ads Miller Lite would use in their “Miller Time Ads By Dick” series over the next couple years. The story behind their creation was just as messed up and bizarre as the actual commercials themselves were. Miller Lite supposedly hired this guy named Dick (Cue the Beavis & Butthead retort) whose photo was ripped from an early 1970’s high school yearbook. They gave him a six pack of Miller Lite and some other form of enticement that varied in each of the early spots, and he came up with the wacky commercials for “Miller Time”. The Miller Time screen shot would then appear at the beginning and end of the commercial itself. After the first handful of ads, the entire Dick preamble was removed entirely, but each spot still began and ended with the Miller Time screen so you knew you were watching a genuine ad created by Dick!
While the whole ridiculousness of the cooked up story behind these ads was classic enough, what really made this one of my favorite beer commercial campaigns of all time were the actual ads themselves. The ads always started off pretty innocuously, maybe venturing into slight oddness… but really nothing all too out of the ordinary. But the payoff always came at the end of the ad, and it was usually something pretty clever and unexpected. In the debut ad I showed above, we see this strange man walking through a tall field… kinda lost. When he gets to a clearing in the field, we can see that….. he isn’t wearing any pants! Ha, ha, ha Dick!!! That was hilarious!
While I liked the twist of the first ad, it was the second spot that was my all time favorite Dick ad…
OMG! They were all getting up to go to the bathroom!!! That’s so fucking hilarious, I nearly pissed my pants!
OK, maybe I was the only one who found these spots to be funny, because sadly, my experience has been that the Miller Time Dick ads are largely forgotten by people today. And it seems that the best remembered commercial of the entire campaign was the one that bridged the gap between the early spots (where the Dick story is given beforehand) and the later ads where all mentions of Dick himself are eliminated….
“Twist To Open” was definitely one of the more genius ideas in this series, but alas, it was one of the few spots from the post-Dick era that managed to capture the magic of the early ads. Within two years of bursting onto the scene, Dick had aired his last ad for Miller Lite. Perhaps they should have given him another six pack and some more glue to huff…
If you really want to overdose yourself on
Dick Miller Time, here are some more commercials from the series that I was able to find on YouTube:
Evil Beaver (OMG! I forgot how hilarious the pegleg scene is!!!)
Cupid (Another later ad that was very much like classic Dick!)
Making Out (Very classic Dick!!!!)
And before I sign off on this post, I learned something while researching this campaign that actually gives the Dick campaign an 80’s connection! The commercials were directed by Gerald Casale, better known as one of the members of the band Devo! So now we know who the creative genius behind these ads really was…..