Miller Uncaps Classic Jingle

MillerCoors has gone back to the future as it seeks to reposition its Miller High Life brand with Bob Backer’s classic jingle from the ’70s: “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.”

Backer, who also invented “Miller Time,” made his name at McCann Erickson, where he earned the epithet “legendary” before leaving to form his own agency, Backer Spielvogel. He was acknowledged as one of the inspirations for the Don Draper character in “Madmen.” Unlike Draper, however, Backer, was a music man — penning tune-fueled stage productions during his school years, and later gaining notoriety as the adman who kept a grand piano in his office.

No mere set dressing, Backer put it to good use. Before passing away in May at age 89, Backer contributed to the pop lexicon such tunes as Coca Cola’s “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” and “Things Go Better with Coke (after Coke, after Coke),” Campbell’s “Soup is Good Food” and that feel-good crowd-pleaser for Löwenbräu “Here’s to good friends, tonight is kind of special.”

“Nobody out there has heard of J. Walter Thompson or Backer Spielvogel Bates,” Backer told The New York Times in 1993, when he was retiring from the ad world to indulge his hobby as a Thoroughbred horse breeder in Virginia, where he also worked on land preservation issues. “Those are temporal, self-aggrandizing entities. But if you come up with what’s basically a little hymn to getting the world together, it’s a contribution,” continued the quote, which was cited in the NYT’s Backer remembrance when he died earlier this year.

The Miller jingle, “If You’ve Got the Time, We’ve Got the Beer,” was resurrected by Philadelphia agency Quaker City Mercantile, which landed the account following a stint at Leo Burnett, which rolled out the “I Am Rich” campaign targeting millennials. According to an article in Ad Age, this new old campaign also seeks to reach millennial beer drinkers, albeit less obviously (and also in a way that can potentially reach females).

“You need not act like a millennial to appeal to a millennial,” Ryan Marek, director of economy brands at Miller High Life, told Ad Age. “This is a lesson a lot of brands are learning within beer and across a lot of other categories as well. You have to be authentic.”

In a 2015 NY Times interview, Backer lamented that “the human side of the business has gone out of the marketing business,” and noted that “building brands is about making them human and personal. Today, I guess the agencies don’t have the time to make brands have a personal connection.” The authenticity MillerCoors and other brands are looking for can be found in yesteryear’s heartfelt jingles (writes the woman who found herself sobbing at an NAB convention where luncheon sponsor Budweiser unspooled a nostalgic “greatest hits” commercial reel). 

Bill Backer at the piano

Bill Backer performs during a 2007 interview for the Coca-Cola archives. (Photo: Courtesy Coca-Cola)

The two new 15-second “If You’ve Got the Time” spots touting “quality for everyman” debuted in late November. It’s a testament to Backer’s melodic abilities that since having heard them (anew — I’m old enough to recall ’70s television) I’ve been humming little else, and — despite the fact that I’m more of a pinot grigio gal — even find myself hankerin’ for a beer. Welcome Backer!

The jingle was originally sung by Brook Benton (a version called “Straight Jingle”), Johnny Mack (“Country Version”) and The Troggs (“Invitation”). The early versions are compiled on a vinyl 45 still available for about $6.

Miller Beer’s “high life” designation, “the Champagne of bottled beers,” dates back to the turn of the century, “when most folks drank beer in a saloon, or took it home in a bucket,” writes Sara White on the MillerCoorsBlog. Wanting its bright, bubbly amber beverage to suggest champagne, the Miller company packaged it in a then-unique clear glass, slope-shouldered bottle, and created marketing around a sparkly image.

Backer was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1995. You can hear him talking about his classic ad work here.

3 Responses to "Miller Uncaps Classic Jingle"

  1. lauren  March 26, 2017 at 4:44 am

    Thank you! “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer” is my favorite jingle of all time. It was so appealing to me when I was a kid and when I first heard it this go around it melted my heart all over again. I grin every time I hear it. Thanks for the information, your research is appreciated!

    Reply
  2. Ted  April 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    “When it’s time to relax, one beer stands clear (Beer After Beer), if you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer…Miller Beer.”. The new version omits the “Beer after Beer” line – FYI.

    Reply
  3. Kenneth LaChapelle  June 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Where can I get the music for this jingle?

    Reply

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