Miller Drafts Changes

Miller Brewing Co., looking to add some gusto to its flat sales, is shaking its marketing tree – including talking to outside agencies for its newly acquired Molson brands and shifting brand assignments – to find answers.
Miller has held discussions with at least three shops, not all current roster agencies, according to several industry sources. Preliminary discussions have been held with Backer Spielvogel Bates/New York, which handles Miller Genuine Draft and Genuine Draft Light, according to these sources. Ogilvy & Mather and Chiat/Day, both New York, and possibly one or two others, also are said to have had talks about Molson.
Miller acquired the U.S. import operations of Canada’s Molson Breweries and the U.S. marketing and distribution rights for Molson and Foster’s brands in the U.S. in April. It may double this year the $6.5 million Molson spent on advertising for all its brands in 1992, according to Leading National Advertisers. Lintas: New York handles the Molson brands; Thomas Angotti Hedge, New York, handles Foster’s.
Molson isn’t the only focus of Miller’s restlessness. Insiders point to new directions from new Miller president Jack McDonough as one reason for the desire for change. Flat sales over the last 12 months may be another.
Last week, the company brought out nationally another new campaign for Miller Lite from Leo Burnett Co. Given an uncharacteristically brief test in only three markets before the rollout, the new spots revive the ‘Tastes Great, Less Filling,’ tagline Backer made famous 16 years ago. The new spots humorously combine different sports, such as sumo wrestling and high diving, and ask, ‘Can Your Beer Do This?’
‘McDonough wants to breathe life in these brands and he’s willing to try a number of different things,’ said one Miller source. ‘Miller needs to refresh its brands. If you look at their sales across the board, they haven’t met expectations.’
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)