Miller has inked a sponsorship deal tied to Fox Cable's FX network's upcoming series Rescue Me. Under terms of the deal, the series' July 21 premiere will air without commercials, with Miller as its sponsor. The agreement includes a customized introduction and "thank you" messages with the series' cast.
Woven into storyline
Additionally, Miller branding will appear on printed, digital and televised promotional materials over the course of the season. Miller products will be woven into the storyline of the series, a drama about firefighters.
A Miller spokesman said it fits in with the brewer's efforts to "break through" to consumers and "do more than the standard 30-second commercial." It will be the first time the debut episode of a cable series will air without commercials.
The move is similar to the commercial-free season premiere sponsorship by the Ford Motor Co. of 24 on the Fox TV broadcast network.
Six-minute ESPN short
The FX deal is just the latest step for Miller as it, like other marketers, tries to reach consumers with increasingly fragmented media habits. The brewer produced a six-minute baseball story, about a Boston family confronted with an uncle's death just before they plan to watch their beloved Red Sox in the final game of the World Series, that ran in 90-second chunks on ESPN.
Miller's rivals also have been pushing into branded entertainment efforts. Coors Brewing Co., for instance, has placed products in reality series Survivor and The Restaurant. Anheuser-Busch has sponsored a commercial-free episode of Late Night with David Letterman as well as feature movies on FX (Deuce Bigalow, Me, Myself and Irene, and others), running "Budweiser Best Man" short films as intermissions.
Bruce Lefkowtiz, executive vice president of advertising sales for FX, said the Miller consumer profile meshes with FX's audience.
He added the partnership grew out of discussions with Starcom USA, Chicago, part of Publicis Groupe's Starcom Mediavest Group. Starcom is Miller's lead media planning and investment agency and negotiated the sponsorship.