DraftFCB Wins Miller Lite Assignment

Needing a Rush Job on Holiday Ads, Brewer Bypasses Agency of Record BBH

By Published on .

Most Popular
CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Only hours after announcing that a group of agencies led by DraftFCB has won its consolidated media business, MillerCoors today said the agency has also been awarded its first creative assignment on Miller Lite. In doing so, it beat out the brand's agency of record, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, in a jump-ball contest for the assignment.
Having Coors Light's primary agency work on Miller Lite is a potentially tricky play for MillerCoors.
Having Coors Light's primary agency work on Miller Lite is a potentially tricky play for MillerCoors.

DraftFCB is the longtime agency of record for the Coors and Coors Light brands. Measured media spending last year on Miller Lite was $128 million and on Coors $142 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Impatient wholesalers
A Miller spokesman said the assignment was a result of unhappiness in its wholesaler network over MillerCoors' plan, announced internally in October, to roll out a new campaign for Lite next March.

Miller Lite sales have been declining while its biggest rival, Bud Light, and rival-turned-sibling, Coors Light, have been growing, and wholesalers made it clear to management that the brand needed a boost well before March.

So, with no time to develop an entire campaign, Miller let Bartle Bogle and DraftFCB pitch for what the spokesman described as a one-off assignment to produce holiday-themed Lite ads to air for the rest of the year. DraftFCB prevailed, and the series of six 15-second spots it created will begin airing on Thanksgiving Day. "The speed of the turnaround," the spokesman said, "shows that we are hearing our wholesalers loud and clear."

Merger aftermath
That receptiveness comes amid an ongoing dispute between MillerCoors and many of its wholesalers, who have resisted some proposed contract changes from the newly merged No. 2 brewer.

Having Coors Light's primary agency work on Miller Lite is a potentially tricky play for MillerCoors. Chief Marketing Officer Andy England has repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping both brands distinct. But, at the same time, he's also vowed to apply the same laser focus that Coors has placed on "cold refreshment," a concept it hits repeatedly in ads and packaging innovations, to Miller Lite's "great taste" claim going forward.