Deutsch Intros Coors’ Low-Carb Entry

LOS ANGELES After supporting a strategic rollout to mostly North-
eastern states last month, the first ads from Interpublic Group’s Deutsch for Coors Brewing Co.’s new low-carb Aspen Edge will go national later this week during the NBA playoffs and on Frasier, the agency said.

The first two 30-second spots (“Bar” and “BBQ”) feature a roving eye spotting bottles of Aspen Edge at social gatherings of people in their late 20s and early 30s. In each commercial, the eye enters the bottle and product points float in text amid beer bubbles. Narration reinforces the copy, such as the use of “high-country malts” that give the light brew “a surprisingly real beer taste.” Both ads use My Morning Jacket’s alt-country-rock power chords that segue to a jangling guitar inside the bottle. The tagline: “So good, it doesn’t even know it’s low-carb.”

Deutsch/LA senior vice president, associate creative director Michael Kadin worked with Yooly Mukai (art) and William Bloomfield (copy) under managing partner, executive creative director Eric Hirshberg. “We felt the tag best embodied the personality of the product,” said Kadin. “For the launch, Coors really wanted to stress its assets. The big story is about romancing the beer.” HSI Productions’ Arni and Kinski directed the spots.

“This is probably our biggest product launch in eleven years, since Zima,” said Sara Mirelez, brand manager, Coors, Golden, Colo. “It’s an opportunity to be in the fastest growing segment and allows Coors to broaden its portfolio into the super-premiums.” She would not enumerate spending on the brand, but promised the brewer “will continue to reinforce the key taste message” and that the product will be “supported with a full marketing mix.”

By the end of March, Aspen Edge’s initial 19,000 case sales placed it 39th on the list of domestic specialty beers, according to Information Resources, Chicago. Released last year, Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra dominates the category with 38 percent of sales.

“Coors wholesalers are reporting a good reception, and that it’s doing very well in major markets, but complain that the execution on the street and the ad support has been spotty,” said Mark Rodman, a principal at Beverage Industry Consultants, Swampscott, Mass. “But that’s logistics and that can be fixed. The ads are wonderful because they emphasize the color and actually talk about the traits of the product.”

Rodman said it is crucial for Coors that Aspen Edge does not erode sales of Coors Light, as Michelob Ultra did to Bud Light. He pointed out that A-B’s recent TV and radio campaigns for Bud Light (“All light beers are low in carbs. Choose on taste” and “Mr. Over-the-Top Carb Counter”) are intended to stem this erosion. “Such use of intra-brand competition to advance inter-brand competition is misguided,” Rodman said.

Last year Coors cut spending on Coors Light to $128 million from $141 million in 2002, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, while Anheuser-Busch increased ad expenditures on Bud Light from $131 million to $147 million and backed Michelob Ultra with $43 million.