Ice Lite: trio aims to defrost new beer category

Miller Brewing Co.’s main agencies–Leo Burnett, Young & Rubicam and Backer Spielvogel Bates–will be facing off in a pitch for Miller Lite Ice, the brewer’s first ice beer to carry the Miller name, with at least one source sensing a chance for the winning agency to establish a toehold on the main brand.
A Miller spokesperson said Miller Lite Ice is “one of several new initiatives we’re taking a look at. And at times, we call on the various resources of some of our agencies to look at a project.”
In addition to Miller Lite Ice, the No. 2 brewer said it’s testing Mesa, an “ultra light” brew with 77 calories that mill be aimed at women.
Both products are part of what the spokesperson called “momentum marketing tests,” in which Miller releases products without ad support for a week or so to see how well they fare. Miller Lite Ice was in bars about two weeks ago while Mesa, which is unassigned, tested in a Milwaukee suburb just last week.
Some agency executives view the three-way pitch for the new ice brew as a way to get their foot in the door on the Miller Lite business, no at Leo Burnett in Chicago.
“Miller Lite is vulnerable It’s my understanding that ifagency does well with the ice extension, they will have a shot at Miller Lite,” said one agency executive. However, the Miller spokesperson denied that was a possibility.
If Miller’s ice beer gets off the ground, it will go head to head with Anheuser-Busch’s recently launched lee Draft from Budweiser and an ice brew from Coors, which according to sources has been assigned to GSD&M.
Miller already has two ice beers on the market: Icehouse and Molson lee, but like other brewers, Miller has shied away from playing up its flagship brand name on products entering the fledgling ice beer category.
Meanwhile, agency execs are still awaiting word on changes on Miller’s roster which, according to sources, will be whitled down to the three big shops: BSB, Burnett and Y&R. The four agencies expected to be cut are Laughlin/constable, Milwaukee, Cliff Freeman & Partners/N.Y. and Bayer Bess Vanderwarke and J Walter Thompson, both Chicago.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)