Miller Lite Looks Beyond DraftFCB

Saatchi & Saatchi Will Work Alongside Draft on MillerCoors Brand

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MillerCoors is bringing in roster agency Saatchi & Saatchi to assist DraftFCB on a new campaign for the struggling Miller Lite brand, Ad Age has learned. DraftFCB has been the brand's lead creative agency since 2009.

Miller Lite may be ditching its Man Up campaign
Miller Lite may be ditching its Man Up campaign

The move is a boost for Saatchi, which has other MillerCoors brands including Keystone, Miller High Life and MGD 64, now known as Miller 64. For DraftFCB, the roster expansion is another setback following a tough 2011 in which it lost one of its largest global accounts, SC Johnson, after nearly 58 years. On the positive side, the decision secures DraftFCB's place on Miller Lite's roster through the summer, squashing speculation that it was in danger of losing the account. DraftFCB remains the lead agency for Coors Light, which is enjoying a solid run that recently propelled it past Budweiser as the nation's second best-selling beer. Lite ranks No. 4.

Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, and DraftFCB, Chicago, are working separately on different ads that will be part of the same Miller Lite campaign expected to debut in the spring. The new ads are expected to replace DraftFCB's "Man Up" campaign that mocks men who choose other brands. The ads have not been finalized, but have been through consumer testing and will be shown in March to MillerCoors distributors at the brewer's annual spring convention, the brewer said.

"We are excited about the consumer reaction to new Miller Lite creative from both DraftFCB and Saatchi, and they are in the process of producing complimentary work from both agencies that we will first share with our distributor system in March," MillerCoors spokesman Pete Marino told Ad Age . "We said we would leave no stone unturned to develop the best Miller Lite creative. We broadened the tent a bit and offered Saatchi, who is already a roster agency, a chance to participate in this Miller Lite creative assignment."

A DraftFCB spokesman said: "Our ongoing commitment to MillerCoors couldn't be stronger, and we're happy to have helped make Coors Light the No. 2 beer in the USA. We're also really proud of our latest work for Miller Lite and eager to show it at the upcoming convention in March."

Saatchi declined comment, referring calls to MillerCoors.

Like most big beer brands, Miller Lite has struggled in the face of less spending by blue-collar drinkers and more competition from spirits and smaller craft beers. Lite's drop has been pronounced and particularly concerning for MillerCoors, which has made reversing the slide a top priority. Shipments fell by 4.3% in 2011, while market share dropped from 7.4% to 7.2%, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

The brewer did not reveal specifics of the new campaign. But Miller Lite is expected to continue to seek differentiation from other light beers by pushing a message that emphasizes quality taste.

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