'It's Miller Time' Redux

MillerCoors to boost Miller Lite's budget by 50% to support campaign

CHICAGO -- MillerCoors LLC is reintroducing the tagline "It's Miller Time" as part of a marketing push this spring that aims to breathe new life into underperforming Miller Lite beer, said a Dow Jones report.

MillerCoors, a joint venture between Molson Coors Brewing Co. and SABMiller PLC, is rolling out commercials this spring and into the summer with the "It's Miller Time" slogan, a tagline that was first used in the 1970s for High Life before usage for Miller Lite between 1997 and 2002.

Chief marketing officer Andy England told the news agency that the new campaign would focus more on the social aspect of the Miller Lite brand, rather than the slogan's earlier roots that touted the work/reward relationship.

He said MillerCoors intends to boost Miller Lite's media budget by 50% between May and August to support television advertising as well as ads for print and on Facebook Inc., Pandora Media Inc. and Yahoo Inc.'s fantasy sports.

England would not disclose the dollar amount being spent on the advertising campaign.

Although Molson Coors, which has a 42% interest in MillerCoors, ended the year with a solid fourth-quarter report that highlighted the brewer's higher prices and push into emerging markets like China, volume growth was somewhat muted as consumers have been buying more spirits and craft beers at the expense of major U.S. brews.

Miller Lite's domestic sales to retailers declined in each quarter of last year, and Molson Coors President and Chief Executive Peter Swinburn recently told Dow Jones the brand has underperformed for about three years.

Swinburn said when viewing the company's core brands, Molson Canadian, Carling and Coors Light "are in strong positions and we need to prove we can do that with Miller Lite."

Though price increases have helped Miller Lite contribute to the bottom line, Chicago-based MillerCoors is hoping the campaign, as well as new packaging for the brand, will appeal to consumers, the report said. The four core brands contribute more than 60% to Molson Coors's total annual profit, so focusing on them remains a top priority if the company wants to boost revenue and margins, Swinburn has said.

He said the total alcohol market is growing domestically due to stronger demand for wine and spirits, though beer demand is not improving.

"People are choosing alcohol for certain occasions that beer isn't satisfying, and we need to understand that and address it," said Swinburn.

For core brands like Miller Lite, marketing is heavily focused on TV spots, major team sponsorships, retail programming and digital ads, the report said. Miller Lite's new campaign will include redesigned packaging that will begin to hit shelves starting in mid-August. For the 11 NFL teams with which Miller Lite has a partnership, including the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears, MillerCoors intends to launch team packaging, Dow Jones said.