Wieden Repositions Weinhard’s

Miller Brewing angles for a strategy more relevant to the Northwest in a new campaign from Wieden + Kennedy for Henry Weinhard’s beer.

The Milwaukee brewer shifted the brand to the Portland, Ore., agency earlier this year from Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco. Wieden already backs Miller’s High Life brand with what is considered one of the brewer’s better ad campaigns.

Previously distributed by Stroh’s, Weinhard’s briefly went national in the mid-1990s but has rolled back to its original Northwest markets. Miller revived spending last year with an estimated $2 million campaign from Riney. This year’s spending will be up about 15 percent, according to brand director Mike Johnson.

Wieden’s new work is tagged “Beer means more here.” TV spots broke last weekend in Portland, Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. Radio spots will air in Spokane, Wash., Boise, Idaho, and Eugene, Ore.

Riney, which originally built the brand from scratch, brought it back to television last year after four years away. The work continued to use the brand’s traditional Old West themes, complete with cowboys and villains. But that strategy was eventually found to be largely irrelevant to consumers in the Northwest, Johnson said.

“The Old West positioning was a real success 10 or 12 years ago,” he said. “There’s a lot more insight needed into the Northwest.”

Wieden’s three spots include humorous depictions of the region. In one, three young men sit on a rocky, wind-swept beach drinking beer. Two girls in slickers approach. “Oh lordy, look who’s coming our way,” one of the men says. “How about the body on her friend,” says another. “Nothing like a Northwest beach for keeping the Henry’s cold,” says a voiceover.

Another spot features a drinker mustering the courage to consume a huge Hood Canal oyster. A third ad has friends of an unsuccessful home brewer perking up when he offers them a Weinhard’s.