MILLER FIRES LATEST VOLLEY IN BEER BATTLE

New Ogilvy Ads Tout Taste-Test Victory Over Bud

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Stepping up its ad fight with Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Co. is running TV spots touting taste-test results that claim a majority of Bud Light drinkers said Miller Lite had more taste.

The TV spots, handled by ad agency

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Ogilvy & Mather, New York, part of WPP Group, will be complemented by radio and print ads and in-store promotional materials, all with the tagline "Taste for yourself," the brewer said in a release.

Miller is a unit of London-based SABMiller.

Taking on a 'marketing machine'
"Anheuser-Busch has operated as America's premier marketing machine over the past three decades," Bob Mikulay, Miller's executive vice president of marketing, said in the release. "Their image is incredibly strong, and so our job is to ask people to look closely at the actual beers, and taste for themselves."

In response to Miller's latest offensive, Bob Lachky, Anheuser-Busch vice president for brand management and director of global brand creative issued a statement that said "Anyone can spin a survey, however every day in the marketplace adult beer drinkers vote for their favorite beers in grocery stores, restaurants and bars. It's clear they prefer the taste and freshness of Bud Light and Budweiser." Bud Light is the no. 1 selling beer in the U.S.

The Miller work is a continuation of the campaign that has been taking shots at the No. 1 brewer. Tom Pirko, president of the consultancy BevMark, says the tack makes sense for a challenger like No. 2 Miller.

"They need to pound and pound" the message, says Mr. Pirko.

Taste tests
The blind taste and perception tests were conducted by the Institute for Perception, an independent research firm based in Richmond, Va. The tests pitted Miller Lite against Bud Light and consumers were asked which product had more "taste." Miller Lite prevailed a majority of the time. Miller apparently had the same good fortune when the subject of the taste test was "flavor," as its Genuine Draft brand trumped Budweiser.

Miller has been hammering away at Anheuser-Busch for months, including spots that point out Miller Lite has half the carbs of Bud Light. Miller also has been running a "President of Beers" campaign, from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., in which a mock presidential candidate ridicules Anheuser-Busch icons, such as the Clydesdales. Budweiser bills itself as the "King of Beers."

Talking lizards
Anheuser-Busch has responded with ads saying all light beers are low in carbs so consumers should choose on taste. Other spots have enlisted the animatronic lizards Frankie and Louie to make fun of the Wieden work. Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein and Partners, San Francisco, created the Budweiser commercials.

A spokesman for St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch declined to comment.

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