MILLER MAY MOVE HIGH LIFE TO WIEDEN: RETURN TO TV PLANNED FOR BRAND THAT HAS SUFFERED SHARP SALES DROP

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Miller Brewing Co., planning to support its Miller High Life on TV next year after a two-year hiatus, is considering shifting the brand's ad assignment to Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Wieden already handles Miller Genuine Draft, a $40 million account it won from Bates USA, New York, last December.

High Life technically is unassigned, although Square One, Dallas, has handled it on a project basis.

Miller VP-Marketing Jack Rooney has said he wants to jump-start ad support for High Life (AA, July 7). The company last week said no plans have been set at this point and had no comment on the possibility of a move to Wieden.

"We haven't got anything pinned down," a Miller spokeswoman said, referring to a TV push for High Life.

Bill Ferguson, VP-account services at Square One, said he was unaware of plans for a High Life TV campaign or an agency review.

Miller wants to back the beer as part of an overall strategy that began last year to support core brands. The brewer probably will not allot a huge amount of money to the brand and any TV likely would be concentrated in spot efforts.

SALES OFF SHARPLY

High Life sales fell sharply in the late 1980s and '90s, in part as the popularity of light beers rose. Shipments of High Life were at 4.4 million barrels last year, even with 1995 but down sharply from 1980, when the brand moved 23 million barrels, according to Impact.

Miller downgraded the brand's pricing to subpremium from premium in 1993.

There was no measured media support for High Life during the first quarter of 1997. Miller backed the brand with $1.4 million in media spending in 1996, including $18,600 on spot TV during the first part of the year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. In 1995, Miller spent $3.5 million on the brand, including $1.2 million on spot TV and $1 million on cable.

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