Monday, July 12, 2010

Miller High Life Makes Imperceptible Changes to Bottle Design

For those of you who don't spend as much time on the wiki pages of beer brands as I do, Miller High Life started in 1903 as a high end beer, but was repositioned to a "Sub-premium beer" after the introduction of Miller Genuine Draft in 1985. I still think Miller High Life is the best beer Miller sells, thought a lot of that probably has to do with the slogan, "the champagne of bottled beers." Unfortunately they sell it in cans now too so its only written as "the champagne of beers," which just doesn't flow as well despite saving the tongue two syllables worth of time which said tongue can use toward drinking the beer sooner.

So Miller is making a big deal about how they are going to actually spend money advertising High Life again. Since Miller commercials are, as a rule, idiotic and terrible, this really didn't interest me. But part of this push is apparently that they have launched new graphics for High Life Bottles, Cans and cardboard containers.

Miller is pretty damn excited about this change, Its apparently been hyping it enough that it got media coverage to the extent where I found out about it while reading a movie blog. ( which is far less about alcohol than the title implies)

High life's own official site now contains this little poem on the main page, titled
THE NEW LOOK OF THE HIGH LIFE (all caps provided by the over enthusiastic Miller marketing team.) The passage reads: "Whether it's new jeans, a haircut or a six-pack of clean white tees, there's no harm in maintaining your completely irresistible appeal. The same goes for our new look, but fear not friend of the High Life: While 'living the high life' may look a little different on the outside, you can still expect to find the same high quality beer at a tasty price on the inside."

Miller appears to be really concern that this amazing new packaging will confusing fans to the extent where they think High Life is now a completely different product.

This must be a drastic change then, I assumed, akin to DC comic making superman into two separate entities in 1998 both of whom were big piles of colored electricity.

(Note the "by line" on this comic does not have any names listed, I assume this was due to the fact that everyone involved with making superman into brothers from the Double Dragon arcade game entered the Federal Witness Relocation program to prevent being attached by an angry and overweight mob.)

Or you can compare the redesign to some other major change in an actual consumer good instead of a comic book if you are fortunate enough to not be a total geek.

Anyway, as I'm sure you guessed by the title of this entry, Miller really didn't have any right to get so excited. Here is the old bottle:

Here is the new bottle the Miller is peeing their pants in excitement over:

I've been looking at this for about 10 minutes playing "the game of seven errors" like they had in Life magazine, trying to spot the tiny differences. As far as I can tell they changed the colors ever so slightly, the word "High Life" is bigger, and they got rid of the gold part behind the X shaped neck label.

None of these changes make the bottle a worse design, but they are obviously nothing to get excited about unless you are High Life's marketing team. And even as I mock them I have to hand it to them, they barely changed he label design, so therefore did not have to worry about traditionalist backlash, but still managed to get some free advertising by getting High Life mentioned on two of the most popular blogs after vices taken internally (FilmDrunk, the Smoking Section). So I guess it was kinda ingenious.

The similar minor changes to the High Life cans don't even warrant mentioning to me since I've already stated my opinion that High Life should only be sold in Bottles so they can bring back the original slogan.

Speaking their slogan, the one cool element about the bottles is the back of the label. At least according to Smoking Section. I'm not sure if they actually added this element, or if it was some sort of "concept bottle" (is that even a thing?), since Miller for some reason doesn't include a single shot of the back of the bottles in the 11 pictures of the new design linked on the official site.

According to this photo, the bottles now have the slogan, "Campaign of Beers" written on the back of the main front label so can read it through the back of bottle, similar to the drawing that can be seen through the goose on the front of a Grey Goose bottle, a design element which, apparently every Vodka more expensive than Vlad has now adopted. I didn't realize that was standard vodka operating procedure now, until i stumbled upon these four pages worth of rows upon rows of Vodka bottles that use that same exact design element.

Here is the slogan projecting through some High Life bottles, for your viewing pleasure:
(I assume, if this is in fact on the actual bottles, the photographer created that wrapped text across 3 bottles because the labels are curved, so if you angle each of them slightly, you can make that magic-eye 3 bottle widescreen deal you see here.)

Since this is the only dramatic part of the new packaging, I'm not sure why Miller didn't just use this as the sole selling point. The paragraph on the main page of their website could instead read:

"Whether it's new jeans, a haircut or a six-pack of clean white tees, Miller really wants to seem like we understand you, working class male ages 21-40. And that we sure as hell know what you like. You like reading words through the contents of a bottle. And now you can experience that thrill without the expense of buying a bottle of Vodka and drinking it straight every time you wish read words printed on the opposite side of a bottle whilst sipping out of that self same bottle.

Miller High Life Bottles: the Vodka Bottle of the Campaign of Beers."

1 comment:

  1. Danny, very sorry -- I will actually start reading this web log of yours.

    I really enjoyed this article about Miller High Life bottle design and appreciated the comparison to frosted vodka bottles. Please continue to write about alcohol. I hold it to be very dear in my life.