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Looking to boost its presence in the subpremium beer segment, Miller Brewing Co. next year will position its regional Southpaw Light as a low-calorie companion to the Red Dog brand.

Point-of-purchase materials will link the two brands and Southpaw's packaging may be redesigned to bring it into line with Red Dog, said Tony Besasie, senior brand manager-allied brands.

Zipatoni, St. Louis, handles POP for Southpaw.

This unusual linkage is the result of Miller wanting to offer a light complement to Red Dog but fearing a simple line extension would dilute the brand's equity.


"We felt it was a brand that should stand on its own," Mr. Besasie said. "A Red Dog light would be like a pink poodle."

Miller introduced Red Dog in 1994 to compete with microbrews and backed it with extensive ad support. The brand took off quickly but fell just as fast, until Miller cut its price in 1997 and watched its volume rise again. Red Dog sold 1.3 million barrels in 1997, up 13.6% from the previous year, according to industry newsletter Impact.

Miller is supporting Red Dog with about $5 million in advertising this year (AA, April 6). The ad campaign, from Square One, Dallas, runs with the tag "Let the dog out" and pitches Red Dog as a macho brew.

Southpaw was introduced in the Southeast in 1995. It has since been expanded to 26 states, including Texas.

Miller plans to expand it into additional markets.

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