MillerCoors has ended a three-month review by choosing Leo Burnett to lead creative on top-selling brand Coors Light.
According to a blog post and an email sent to the company’s distributors, operating managers and executives and contacts today on behalf of CMO Michelle St. Jacques, the Publicis agency will collaborate with other roster shops, including DDB, ICF Next and Leo Burnett Arc, to generate “breakthrough ideas to help the brand connect with consumers.”
The DDB network already worked with MillerCoors after DDB Chicago and adam&eveDDB landed the Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft brands in a 2017 review.
According to sources close to the matter, Ogilvy and Crispin Porter Bogusky pitched against Leo Burnett. CPB declined to comment, and Ogilvy did not immediately respond to a related email. 72andSunny, which had been AOR on the brand since 2015, sat out the review.
“We’re beyond excited to be working with Coors Light. It’s an amazing and iconic brand, with an incredibly talented team on the client side who totally share our point of view of what great work is,” said Britt Nolan, co-president and chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Chicago.
DDB referred to the client for comment.
The review followed the January arrival of St. Jacques, who succeeded David Kroll after the company went six months without a marketing chief. Prior to joining MillerCoors, the executive spent approximately five years with Kraft Heinz; during that time, she worked closely with Leo Burnett.
“Amid a challenging time for the beer industry, which has lost drinkers to wine, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks, MillerCoors is making changes to its marketing approach with the aim of bringing drinkers back to beer,” the internal note read.
MillerCoors described a three-pronged approach to marketing that includes focusing on younger drinkers, bringing ideas to market faster, and building a brand “that more people want to hang out with.” St. Jacques particularly referenced recent projects including a Blue Moon “lunar keg” concept tied to Jeff Bezos’ space exploration brand, the launch of wine spritzer line Movo and the brand’s response to Bud Light’s #corntroversy (MillerCoors successfully sued its rival and created a stunt tap that dispenses free beer when Bud Light ads play).
While Coors Light remains the second most popular beer in America, sales have declined steadily in recent years, including a 3.9% drop in 2018. (Bud Light fell by 5.5% over the same period.)
“We will buy brave, awesome ideas,” read a quote attributed to St. Jacques. “Brands matter, especially in the beer industry. What you have in your hand or bring to a party matters. So we need big ideas that bring drinkers back to beer and get them excited about our brands again. And I know we can do that.”
Kantar Media has MillerCoors spending more than $150 million on paid media to promote Coors Light in the U.S. each year.