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Miller Brewing Co. and Anheuser-Busch are pouring ad support into their specialty brews as the category's growth rate slows.

Miller is expanding media support for its Leinenkugel's beers, introducing new creative for Celis and breaking a new tagline -- "Maine's better-built ales" -- for Shipyard.

The brewer said it will boost advertising for the brands by as much as 10%, though the total still will be under $2 million. Y&R Advertising, Chicago, handles those brands.


A-B, meanwhile, is planning a print and outdoor campaign to begin in March in select markets to support its line of five specialty brews under the Michelob name, including Amber Bock, Golden Pilsner, Hefeweizen, Honey Lager and Pale Ale. The Michelob products were introduced last year.

After years of posting double-digit growth, the craft brew segment grew only 7% in 1997, according to estimates by Mark Wildman, Miller senior brand manager-specialty brands.

"We're trying to advertise smarter," Mr. Wildman said.

Besides running Leinenkugel's outdoor, radio and limited spot TV in the brand's core Chicago, Minnesota and Wisconsin markets, Miller plans to boost the brand's presence in Kansas City, Mo.; Phoenix; and St. Louis.

In Phoenix, radio and print will break in March to support the new Leinenkugel's Ballpark Brewery.

Miller previously supported Celis with point-of-purchase materials, but next month will break new outdoor, print and radio efforts in the brew's native Texas.

This month it's starting the Texas rollout of Pale Rider Ale with ads from McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., to follow in March.


Also in March, Miller plans to break new print, radio and spot TV for Shipyard in its home state of Maine. The brand is retrenching after recent failed efforts to break into new markets outside the East.

A-B next month is launching a new addition to the Michelob specialty line, a black-and-tan brew, and will break a $1 million print and radio campaign in California, New England and the Pacific Northwest for the overall Michelob specialty line.

Leap Partnership, Chicago, is handling this effort in conjunction with a $30 million campaign for Michelob that broke yesterday.

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