Coors tries different tack in $10 mil Zima TV campaign

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Adolph Coors Co. is taking another fling with Zima ClearMalt, its specialty beverage that skyrocketed in sales three years ago only to plunge just as quickly.

Coors this week breaks an estimated $10 million TV campaign for the malt-based beverage after years of declining support. Ad spending totaled $6.8 million for 1996, and $9.2 million in 1995 as well as $6.8 million on Zima Gold, now discontinued.

The new advertising is more clearly targeted to 21-to-34-year-olds, rather than the previous skew toward just women. The beverage's flavor also has been modified, although that won't be mentioned in the campaign.

SUMMER DAYS

The two spots from Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, humorously depict long, hot summer days.

In one, two Generation X youths are sitting in a bachelor pad listening to news reports of another day with record high temperatures. One youth wearing plastic sandals, which stick to the floor, walks over to the refrigerator, where he selects a Zima over beer and what appears to be a piece of leftover chicken. As he closes the door, his uses his sticky soles to walk up the front of the fridge to the ceiling, where the fan has stopped working. He drinks the Zima upside down, then plunges to the floor.

In the second spot, a man pulls into a bar on a dusty road only to have his car seat stick to him. There he sees patrons with their chairs stuck on their backs also. He orders a Zima and the car seat falls off.

Both commercials, tested in San Diego and North Carolina, are tagged "A few degrees cooler."

The brand's original campaign in the early 1990s featured an offbeat character who substituted the letter "z" for "s," saying, for example, "Zomething different." Subsequent ads worked toward a slightly older audience showing a working woman, for example, drinking a Zima and deciding to fly off on a vacation instead of taking a business trip.

SPECIALTY BREW NICHE

Zima was Coors' attempt to tap the specialty brew market by developing a product inspired by New Age clear beverages. It was launched nationally in 1994, and quickly reached a 1% share in the beer market, according to ACNielsen Corp., but now has just 0.5% after sales fell off almost as quickly as they had risen.

Since the Zima launch, Coors has shifted its focus from the specialty markets to its flagship brands, Original Coors and Coors Light.

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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