Miller Runs Interference on Bud Select Launch

CHICAGO Miller Brewing breaks TV spots tonight in a bid to pre-empt Anheuser-Busch’s introduction of low-carb Budweiser Select, saying that if the St. Louis brewery is searching for a “better light beer,” it could have called Miller.

The 15-second spots from Interpubic Group’s The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., beat A-B’s first Bud Select TV work by two days. A spot for the new brand from Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., is slated to run during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Miller’s spot tells viewers that Miller Lite continues to have more taste than Bud Light with half the carbohydrates, a claim Miller has made consistently over the course of several months in advertising that directly takes on its much larger competitor.

In a memo to distributors, Miller CEO Norman Adami said that Bud Select “represents a major opportunity for Miller Lite,” as its introduction is an admission by A-B that “it has concerns about the product characteristics of its two (Budweiser and Bud Light) flagship beers,” Adami wrote. “In fact, we believe the introduction of New Budweiser makes the original Budweiser and old Bud Light even more vulnerable to the strong proposition of Miller Lite.”

A-B last fall responded to some of Miller’s tweaking with TV spots of its own, depicting the beer referees invented by Miller are actually just trying to score Bud Light for themselves. The brewery has also filed protests to networks over some of Miller’s work, claiming, among other things, the ads drew improper conclusions from taste tests. A-B’s complaints resulted in several Miller spots being rejected by the networks.