Super Bowl

MillerCoors Sneaks Into Super Bowl

Company Behind One-Second Ads Mocking Super Bowl Spending Now Buying Pricey Regional Inventory to Plug Launch of Apple Brew

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MillerCoors, which once mocked extravagant Super Bowl ad spending with a tongue-in-cheek one-second ad, is buying up pricey regional ad inventory during this year's game to plug a national launch of its newest brew.

The brewer has purchased time on local TV stations in the Great Lakes and Southeast regions for a 15-second ad for Redd's Apple Ale, an apple-flavored malt beverage it began testing over the summer. The Super Bowl spots are the beginning of a major campaign for Redd's, which launches nationally Feb. 1. "This thing is going to come out big, it's going to come out hot, so what better way to goose it than with a big advertising program," MillerCoors Exec VP-Chief Marketing Officer Andy England told Ad Age . "The Super Bowl, regionally, just happens to be part of it."

The campaign is by WPP's Cavalry, an agency established last year to handle creative and digital for Coors brands and new products.

MillerCoors is precluded from making national Super Bowl buys because Anheuser-Busch InBev holds the exclusive beer-advertising rights to the game, airing Feb. 3 on CBS. But that does not stop competing brewers from using local spot buys. In 2009, MillerCoors bought one-second regional ads for its blue-collar High Life brand meant to mock Super Bowl spending as an out-of -touch extravagance, which generated plenty of valuable PR buzz. NBC, carrier of the game that year, was not impressed and directed owned and operated affiliates not to run the commercials, Ad Age reported at the time.

Redd's is positioned to compete with brands such as Mike's Hard Lemonade and Twisted Tea. "Flavored malt beverages seem to do best when you have a brand that really owns a flavor," Mr. England said. "Mike's has done a great job of building lemon and Twisted is doing a great job of building tea. And we believe that Redd's can own apple."

The campaign -- which will include TV, digital, print and out of home -- uses the tagline "Branch out" and includes a bushelful of apple puns, such as "different to the core." The launch comes as big brewers experiment with new flavors and brands to appeal to millennials and women, while beating back spirited competition from craft beers and liquor brands.

MillerCoors is also planning a national launch and sizable ad campaign for Third Shift, a small-batch lager that made its debut regionally in the summer. Cavalry will also handle that effort.

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