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LOWENBRAU EXPANDS ITS LINE;SPECIALTY CRAFTBIERS MAY GIVE NEEDED LIFT TO MILLER

By Published on .

Miller Brewing Co. last week began supplementing Lowenbrau Brewing USA's two-brand line with radio, print and outdoor promoting new specialty brews-just in time, perhaps, to help bounce back from a sluggish quarter.

Miller introduced Lowenbrau Craftbiers with Premium Pils and Marzen varieties in a campaign from Young & Rubicam, Chicago, themed "Bringing back 600 years of brewing tradition, one beer at a time." The brands rolled out in eight markets nationwide, and will reach 11 more in September.

TWO MORE PLANNED

Miller will add Oktoberfest in September and Schwarzes Lager early next year.

"Growth and interest in imports and specialties are both up" among U.S. consumers, said Steve Wnuk, senior brand manager at Miller. "This is an opportunity to leverage both with a family of brands that will really raise the credentials of Lowenbrau Brewing USA."

TARGETING SPECIALTY BREWS

The brands are intended to compete with other specialty brewers, Mr. Wnuk said, and won't encroach on other Lowenbrau beers.

Marketing and distribution for Lowenbrau Special and Lowenbrau Dark "remain totally unchanged," he said. The Lowenbrau Craftbiers line "appeals to a different consumer with a more adventurous taste experience."

Lowenbrau is a small part of Miller's business, having shipped just 400,000 barrels of the Dark and Special brands in 1995. By contrast, Miller Lite, the brewer's top seller, shipped 15.8 million barrels last year. With the entry of the specialty brands, Miller's media spending on the Lowenbrau line probably will exceed the $1.4 million spent in 1995.

And any consumer interest in new specialty brands should aid Miller, which suffered a rough second quarter with a 3.6% decline in net income to $159 million, according to Philip Morris Cos. Revenue rose 1.1% to $1.2 billion in that period, but Philip Morris said high marketing expenses and a 3% decline in Miller's worldwide volume for the period dampened profits.

Philip Morris blamed the volume drop on a cold spring in North America. Figures from Miller rivals Coors Brewing Co. and Anheuser-Busch were unavailable last week.

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