NEW YORK Miller Brewing has kicked off a repositioning of Icehouse beer, crafting Web executions to reach young male drinkers.
Miller and Dennis Digital have hooked up to create "Brewtron," a fun-loving robot that stars in videos online. Miller will post the videos on Icehouse.com, a Maxim.com microsite (www.maxim.com/icehouse), and throughout the Web via video-sharing services like YouTube.
Ice beers, which are brewed at lower temperatures, were introduced in the early 1990s. The process yields higher alcohol content: Icehouse has 5-5.5 percent alcohol, compared to 4.2 percent for Miller Lite.
Brewtron is meant to convey the notion that Icehouse is the perfect "pre-game" beer for men in their 20s, according to Tom McLoughlin, director of Icehouse. "You're not going to drink imports or crafts," he said. "But you're not going to trade all the way down and drink malt liquor."
Icehouse hopes to expand beyond its regional appeal to a national audience. Miller's last marketing push for the brand, in 2003, used spot television to appeal to consumers in six Southeastern states with geared to the 28-34 demographic. Those ads emphasized the beer's small-brewery roots.
This time around, Miller is relying on print ads in Maxim and Athlon sports publications, as well as online ads and in-store promotions. Offline efforts are designed to drive viewers to the Web, for both promotions and the Brewtron entertainment.
In order to capture the sensibility of young males, Miller turned to Maxim.com to create viral videos. One clip shows guys building Brewtron, a party robot equally adept at throwing football passes, retrieving beers, manning a barbeque grill and picking up women.
The videos will be seeded on video-sharing sites in the hopes they create viral buzz a la Smirnoff's "Tea Partay," which in two weeks has been watched 700,000 times on YouTube. Like that effort, Icehouse employs a light touch, eschewing overt sales pitches in favor of over-the-top comedy.
"We know what resonates with our guys and what's not going to turn them off," said Steven Rosenblatt, vp of sales for Maxim.com. "They're going to embrace it and be the brand ambassadors."
Dennis Digital collaborated on the campaign with Icehouse's agencies, Grey in Atlanta, digital shop ad2 in El Segundo, Calif., and promotions firm Upshot in Chicago.