MillerCoors Turns Web Into Barroom With Digital Ad Deals

Brewer Ups Digital Video Spending by 50%

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MillerCoors has struck a flurry of digital content deals with AOL Advertising, Comedy Central, Spotify, the Weather Company and others as the brewer hikes its investment in online and mobile marketing.

Miller Lite Original Can
Miller Lite Original Can

The deals -- which include data-triggered ads and customized content -- come as the maker of Miller Lite and Coors Light plans a 50% boost in digital video spending for 2014, Jackie Woodward, the brewer's VP-marketing connections, told Ad Age. She declined to divulge the company's overall digital spending increase or exact terms of each deal, but characterized the new spending as "significant."

The investment is further proof that alcohol marketers -- which were originally slow to embrace digital marketing, partly because of age-gating concerns -- are jumping in with both feet. For MillerCoors, the goal is to imbed its brands in conversations that are occurring online, just as the brewer has long tried to be a part of barroom talk.

The company is a putting particular focus on pairing experiential marketing with digital programs, Ms. Woodward said, noting that the brewer wants paid, owned and earned media working together. For instance, in a new deal with Spotify, the brewer's Blue Moon brand is creating a "Follow the Moon" music tour that will be timed with full moons in five cities. Content from the events will be shared on a co-branded microsite that will include interviews and custom playlists. "Our approach is that content is about being in the conversation. That is what beer is all about," Ms. Woodward said.

It wasn't long ago that big beer brands didn't even engage in the most basic of digital executions, like having a Twitter handle. That changed after the social media company instituted an age-checking tool that was first tested in 2012.

Jackie Woodward, MillerCoors
Jackie Woodward, MillerCoors

Digital platforms are "getting better at being able to tell us that we are engaging with 21-plus consumers," Ms. Woodward said.

Here is a look at quick look some of the brewer's new digital deals, which were brokered by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative, New York.


The deal includes a new series called "BrewPub Newsroom" that will include customized content "informed by proprietary insights and conversations happening on social media," according to MillerCoors. Ads for Miller Lite, Coors Light, Blue Moon and Redd's Apple Ale will run near the content. The arrangement also includes a segment on AOL-owned HuffPost Live called "HuffBros Live" that will be sponsored by Miller Lite and include male conversations about dating, sports and style.

Weather Company

The brewer's Leinenkugel's brand will partner with the Weather Company's WeatherFX data platform. Mobile and desktop ads will be triggered by sales data and local weather conditions. The program will plug the brand's seasonal Summer Shandy brew during nice summer days in specific markets, including providing "customized, locally relevant activities and suggestions based on weather," according to MillerCoors.

Complex Media

MillerCoors also reached an ad deal with Complex Media, which targets young men with several lifestyle, music, sports and entertainment sites. For instance, the brewer's new higher-alcohol brand Miller Fortune will partner with the company to develop "exclusive content with key influencers in the music, entertainment, fashion and art industries," according to MillerCoors.

Funny or Die

Redd's Apple Ale will sponsor an online contest aimed at up-and-coming comedians. Winners will perform at "Road to Oddball" comedy events and have a chance to join the touring "Oddball Comedy Festival Tour."

Comedy Central

Redd's will co-create a weekly improv web series that is "inspired by real fan tweets" and hosted by a stand-up comedian.

Woven Digital

In partnership with MillerCoors' new Smith & Forge Hard Cider brand, Woven will produce custom video content across its network of men-targeted sites.

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