Miller changes agencies for Lite, Genuine Draft

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Miller Brewing Co. named new lead agencies for creative on its two biggestbrands. Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, gets the assignment for the estimated$100 million Miller Lite account, at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, since 1991.Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., replaces Bates USA, New York, for creativeon the $80 million Miller Genuine Draft account.

In an apparent nod to Burnett's longstanding relationship with Miller'sparent, Philip Morris Cos., media buying and planning for the Miller brandsis moving from Bates to Burnett.

The Miller Lite creative loss is also a particular setback for Burnett, whicha month ago lost the $100 million United Airlines business, now split betweenFallon and Young & Rubicam, New York.

It has been anticipated for months that Milwaukee-based Miller would look toswitch agencies for its leading brands, given their lackluster salesperformance. Earlier this fall, Miller executives told wholesalers thatMiller's advertising and marketing focus would return to core brands, such asLite and Genuine Draft, and that the company was virtually aborting adefforts for the Miller Beer startup brand.

At that time, Burnett was reportedly put on notice to devise a campaign tocounter rival Bud Light within two to three months.

No formal agency review was ever announced by Miller, but it was known thebrewer invited agencies to pitch ideas; it is believed Fallon originallypitched for new Miller Beer, and also showed some ideas for Lite. Wieden hadbeen informally pitted against Bates on Genuine Draft, but the decision toswitch was made before any final presentations occurred.

Measured media figures for 1995 show Miller spent $83.1 million for Lite and$42.2 million for Genuine Draft, according to Competitive Media Reporting.Through Oct. 4 of this year, supermarket sales of Miller Lite totaled $377.2million, up 3% over the previous 12-month period, according to InformationResources Inc. During the same period, Genuine Draft sales fell 2.5% to $188million. The two brands, respectively, account for 7.1% and 3.5% of totalbeer sales.

Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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