Swedish Bikini Team Revived For Ailing Brand

The Swedish Bikini Team is back. Two of them, in fact.

In one corner is the Old Milwaukee Bikini Team, revived from a 1990s TV campaign created by Hal Riney & Partners of San Francisco that spawned lawsuits and protests by feminists while boosting sales among young men.

In the other corner is a Swedish Bikini Team trademarked by Los Angeles producer Ron Bryan, who plans to release movies and sell products featuring the blond bombshells. Bryan says he secured the trademark while Old Milwaukee’s previous parent, Stroh Brewing, was backing away from the idea.

Now operating as part of San Antonio, Texas-based Pabst Brewing, Old Milwaukee is repositioning itself as OM and using its updated “team” for in-store and Web promotions. No TV is planned. The idea of a revival came from OM’s ad shop, Object 9 of Baton Rouge, La. OM still uses the tagline that accompanied the original spots: “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

For the brand, things have never gotten better than its ’90s heyday. An ad budget of $20 million in 1991 fell to just $30,000 in 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. The brand holds less than 1 percent of the market, per Information Resources.

Object 9 partner Andy Gutowski said he doesn’t see a conflict with Bryan’s bunch. Bryan said he doesn’t begrudge OM for the use of their team. “It may help generate more publicity for me,” he said, “because I’m in pre-production for the next movie, Moonbreaker: Dressed to Thrill.”