Spot follows real life in Miller Lite’s “The Race”

Two guys from multicultural agency Commonground, which has a diverse group of creatives, from Millennials to Baby Boomers got into a friendly debate about which of the two represented the best generation, the Gen Xer or the Gen Yer. 

The discussion between the Gen Xer, VP/creative director Mike Williams and younger Gen Y copywriter Nate DeLeon picked up good natured steam culminating in one of them saying, let’s take it to the street, let’s race. 

So one evening after work this summer, Williams, in business attire and wearing dress shoes and DeLeon more casually dressed within Brand Jordans, lined up on the street outside the office for a 40 foot dash as their officemates egged them on. 

Williams pulled ahead and won.  High fives and back slaps, related creative director Kevin Johnson who was one of the spectators.  Several staffers had pulled out iPhone cameras to capture the race and posted it on Facebook and YouTube. 

“After that, it became a forgotten moment for more than a month,” says associate creative director Kevin Johnson, who joined Commonground six months ago from DraftFCB. 

In September, Johnson, whose main account is American Family Insurance, was given a Miller Lite assignment to write.  “What came to mind,” he says, was the impromptu race between the two friendly competitors.  “It was something I felt was honest, authentic, a special moment that could happen in the real world.”

In the spot, titled “The Race,” two men, both similarly dressed as the original agency competitors, engage in a sprint as their friends cheer them on.  The man in business attire wins by a wide margin.  The friendly competitors and their friends bond with a Miller Lite.

The narrator speaks Johnson’s tagline: “When Miller Time is on the line, friends don’t choose sides.”

The spot was shot Sept. 18 in Los Angeles by bicoastal @Radical Media, directed by frequent feature director Tarsem (“The Immortals”) and lensed by DP Brendan Galvin who also shoots features (“Mirror Mirror”) and whose credits include a spot for Mercedes-Benz, also titled “The Race.”

Post production was handled locally by Red Car’s creative editor Tim LoDolce, online editor Christopher Elliott and executive producer Jon Desir; sound by Vagabond. Red Car currently has American Family Insurance spots in the works.

Ahmad Islam, a former Leo Burnett account executive and Sherman Wright, an executive with Burnett’s Upshot division, founded Commonground in 2004. Among its accounts are Target, Wrigley, Blackberry, Nike, Unilever and the Illinois Lottery for which it produced a highly acclaimed spot last January.

Commonground, which presently employs around 70, won Advertising Age’s Small Agency of the Year Gold Award in the 11 to 75 employee category, at Ad Age’s Small Agency Conference earlier this year.