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"Miller Time is all about real friends getting together over a real beer," MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Andy England said in an interview. "We’re going to articulate that with a kind of Midwestern grit that can only come from Miller Lite."
Oh yeah? I had no idea that "Midwestern grit" came from beer at all, much less that Miller Lite was its exclusive source. But self-important marketing speak aside, the article's account of the history of advertising for major brands is pretty interesting. For example:
By the mid-2000s, craft beer's rise made it harder for light beers to make a case for taste. They tried anyway. In 2008, Miller Lite brought back the “Great Taste, Less Filling” idea in its advertising amid falling sales. Anheuser-Busch went with the tagline “Drinkability,” a brewer’s term used to describe beer that goes down easy. The following year, Miller Lite advertised itself as “triple hops brewed for great pilsner taste,” as more Americans discovered more heavily hopped craft beers such as New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Fat Tire.
Of course, while there are nearly 2,000 of those dreaded craft brewers operating in the U.S., their total sales accounted for only 4.3 percent (by volume) of beer sales in 2010. Meanwhile, as the BusinessWeek article points out, four of the five best-selling beers in the U.S. are light beers. So while it's true that beer sales overall are down and craft beer sales are up, reports of big beer's death have been greatly exaggerated.
The article also details some of the gimmicks that companies have come up with to convince consumers that they've reinvented the can (which my coworker Kevin Warwick wrote about last fall). The latest innovations?
Miller Lite will ship new cans by Labor Day that have darker, more masculine blue graphics. Other cans will have a perforated second opening that will have to be punched out with a tool of the drinker’s choice, because millennial guys “like to tinker,” England said. The opening will allow the beer to flow more like a glass, he said.
What struck me most, though, was the first paragraph, which states that the distribution chief for MillerCoors recently "compared himself to a typewriter salesman in an iPad age." I don't know whether that analogy is apt, but MillerCoors better hope that it's not. If it is, better marketing isn't going to help them.