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MillerCoors Is Testing Branded Content With 26 Different Tech Companies

Aims to move marketing closer to purchase decisions

L-R: Paul Berry, Ahmad Islam, Stevie Benjamin, Jamal Henderson and Moksha Fitzgibbons

MillerCoors is betting big on branded content, revealing during an Advertising Week panel today that the company is currently testing initiatives with 26 different tech companies.

Like most beer brands, MillerCoors’ marketing up until now has primarily homed in on broader brand-building. But with the explosion of digital over the past few years, the brewer is now using mobile, video and media partnerships to make a larger impact at the point-of-sale.

"Twenty-six different tests," said Stevie Benjamin, MillerCoors’ senior director of digital and media. "We don’t sell products to consumers—we’re not distributors—we have retailers, so we’ve in the past focused a lot of our marketing on higher-funnel. We’re really doing a lot of testing lower-funnel."

One of the recent trial programs used beacons—small smartphone-triggered devices set up in physical locations to ping nearby consumers with messages. Per Benjamin, MillerCoors partnered with Hooters, the Chicago White Sox and a media company she didn't name. Benjamin declined to talk about results after the panel, but did say that the test started this summer.

While not all of the content is created for individual platforms, she explained, each test is being customized for a specific platform or experience.

Benjamin said that MillerCoors is meeting—along with its agency, Initiative—next week with potential partners to build out next year’s content programs. 

When it comes to branded content that is working right now, Benjamin cited a program dubbed the Coors Light Axis program she's running with Complex Media, which follows two hip-hop artists by showing exclusive, behind-the-scenes interviews and content.

While Benjamin stressed that she views content and advertising as two separate concepts, Jamal Henderson, Mountain Dew’s senior brand manager, said that his brand veers toward creating content. "That’s the lean-forward creative that people react to, and ultimately, it’s just storytelling," he said.

Henderson also pointed to Mountain Dew’s recent work with augmented reality and Oculus Rift to indicate where branded content is headed. "I think it’s going to take the creative up to another level, [and] I think it’s going to take what’s expected from a brand to a new level," he said.

Meanwhile at a separate panel today, Heineken talked about its mobile efforts to drive awareness of a new product launched in a particular U.S. region earlier this year.

"Within three months, we went from zero awareness in that part of the U.S. to 23 percent awareness," said Ron Amram, the Dutch beer company's senior media director.

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