By Michael Stodola Special to Published Sep 13, 2011 at 6:27 PM

I've been hesitant to write this blog for the following reasons:

  1. I love the brands I'm talking about and want them to succeed.
  2. It goes against my mom's advice of, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

But my frustration level is at orange and I may need a little venting.

Lately, the largest two worldwide brands that represent the fiber of Milwaukee have been slipping a bit in their marketing efforts. And not making big mistakes, but little ones that over time could damage their brands.

The latest Miller Lite campaign is not only lowest common denominator humor, but it panders to them. The "Man Up" television spots employ more than antiquated humor, cheap production qualities and disconnect themselves from the core audience. Now, I understand that Miller Lite is a "jester" brand and needs to appeal to a broad audience. At the heart and soul of any jester brand is the motivation of belonging. So, the group of guys giving each other hell about their masculinity is a solid place to start.

But the execution falls off when the joke is so expected and the thought is completed for us, the audience. Give us some credit as beer drinkers and speak to us on our level. This campaign, in the long run, will come and go like so many before, but it could be so much more effective. Especially at a time when Bud Lite, too, is tanking with their "Here We Go" campaign.

The other brand I want to talk about has done nothing wrong, outside of Elton John, in my eyes. Harley-Davidson broke out a new spot within their "No Cages" campaign that left me wanting well ... nothing. The spot features a biker hooking up leashes to dog cages outside of a pet shop (?) and then pulling the doors off, freeing the dogs.

Dance break: "Who let the dogs out? Who-who-who."

I was semi-shocked at the lack of anything cool about this spot. Now, I do think the Wide Glide in the spot is killer and I would love to ride it this very minute, but honestly, the experience of this didn't ring with me. It wasn't about my freedom. It wasn't about flipping the status quo the bird and going my own way. As a Harley rider, I was a little sad. Especially coming off of their first "No Cages" spot featuring people, cars and city buses in cages until the squeaking of metal is overtaken by a rumbling of a Sportster 1200 Custom. Solid spot. Made me want to ride.

But the dogs ... is a dog.

All due respect to these fantastic brands. Know that I am your evangelist and am happy to drive by your buildings each morning to drop my kids off at school. You can be so much better – even on a stage so broad.

Michael Stodola Special to
Michael Stodola is the Creative Director at Boelter + Lincoln – a Milwaukee advertising agency. He loves his job, but not as much as he loves scuba diving, crab cakes or playing with his kids. His favorite thing is sneaking off for dates with his hottie wife. Born and raised in Nebraska, he’s been calling Milwaukee home for well over 10 years. After Michael’s impending death, he’d like to return to this world as your next American Idol®.