MILLER '98 NFL PROMO MORE INCLUSIVE: BREWER TO OFFER INFLATABLE SUPER BOWL CHAIR IN OCT.

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Looking to better leverage its National Football League sponsorship, Miller Brewing Co. is scrapping last year's Miller Lite cheerleader promotion in favor of a less gender-specific one called "Make the Team."

Miller also plans to start offering its Super Bowl inflatable chair in October, rather than waiting until the playoffs.

Consumers "want the chair so they can have a chair for the games," said Joseph Y. Jones, who earlier this month was tapped as director-brand promotions, from director-national accounts.

HEAVY `98 MEDIA WEIGHT

Miller put a lot of media weight behind its longtime NFL sponsorship last year and plans to do so again during the 1998 season. Given the sport's large young adult male audience, professional football is an important property for Miller and archrival Anheuser-Busch.

A-B spent a record-shattering $20 million for 10 ads during the coming Super Bowl XXXIII to keep Miller of the broadcast (AA, April 13).

Miller's national cheerleader search last year backed its league sponsorship. Wholesalers had mixed reactions to it, with some feeling that finding cheerleaders through auditions may have alienated male beer drinkers.

"It wasn't strong," said one wholesaler. "This [new] one seems a little more mainstream and will probably do better."

The "Make the Team" promotion, which will be giving away a raft of trips to the Super Bowl through a sweepstakes and on-premise contests, was seen as more inclusive.

GMR Marketing, Brookfield, Wis., is Miller's sports promotion agency.

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