The next round for Miller's brands

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Miller Lite

Where it was: For years Miller Lite advertising followed the humorous lead of Bud Light. It reached a low with the "Catfight" ads that generated buzz but didn't do anything for sales.

Where it's at: Under new management, Miller positioned Lite head-to-head against Bud Light on taste and carb count. Launched in fall 2003, the "Good Call" campaign has relentlessly hammered the message with taste tests and referees. The challenger tactic had been kicked around for years in Milwaukee but was seen as too risky.

How it's working: It was a good call. Shipments grew by more than 10% in 2004, according to Beer Marketers' Insights, an incredible accomplishment. Lite continues to grow this year, though not at such a rapid clip.

Miller Genuine Draft

Where it was: A hot brand when it was launched in the mid-1980s, Miller Genuine Draft has been withering for more than a decade. The declining popularity of full-calorie domestic beers has hurt. So has inconsistent marketing.

Where it's at: Miller positioned Miller Genuine Draft against Budweiser (another long-declining brew). It's broadened the assault to depict MGD as better tasting than imports as well. Now Miller is planning to focus marketing on adults who are 30-ish.

How it's working: The Miller Genuine Draft-Budweiser match-up hasn't panned out like the Lite-Bud Light fight. MGD has dropped nearly 1 million barrels since 2002, the year South African Breweries bought Miller.

Miller High Life

Where it was: When SAB bought Miller it inherited one of the longest-running beer campaigns in recent history: the Miller High Life man. But sales had been slipping.

Where it's at: Miller recently gave the High Life man the pink slip and rolled out the Girl in the Moon. The campaign is designed to broaden the beer's appeal-including to women-beyond the brew's blue-collar base.

How it's working: Too early to tell. Miller High Life shipments declined 2.3% to 5.3 million barrels in 2004, according to Beer Marketers' Insights. High Life Light is growing but off a much smaller base.

Milwaukee's Best

Where it was: A-B, which markets Busch and Natural Light, had been beating up Miller for years in the sub-premium category, thanks to its superior distribution network.

Where it's at: Miller is positioning it as the brew for "working-class heroes"-and featuring work from Mother, New York, that has a lad sense of humor-the brewer is running promotions and advertising tied to ESPN's "World Series of Poker."

How it's working: Still rough going. Milwaukee's Best has continued to decline in supermarkets this year, off by 7.7% in supermarkets through Oct. 2, according to figures from Information Resources Inc. Best Light is down 1%.

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