Blue Moon’s ads have less orange peel, more emotion in new creative approach
For much of its 24-year history, Blue Moon’s marketing has focused on its brewing process, ingredients and signature serving style of an orange wedge garnish. But with a new ads launching today, the MillerCoors brand is moving beyond the orange in hopes of connecting with drinkers on a more emotional level.
The effort from DDB Chicago aims to get drinkers to buy the premium brew on a more regular basis by raising the question, “What if once in a blue moon happened more than once in a blue moon?” One ad, called “Routine,” shows a woman waking up each day to discover extraordinary, fantastical events occurring around her, like a man being lifted high in the sky by a batch of colorful balloons and a whale emerging from a man-made city pond. Picture the movie “Groundhog Day,” but only good things happen.
The new creative approach occurs under the tagline “Reach for the Moon,” which DDB debuted earlier this year after winning the account in 2018. The new ads were inspired by Blue Moon’s naming origin story. Founder Keith Villa called it Blue Moon upon the advice of an administrative assistant, who said beers like this only come around “once in a blue moon.”
“The idea of exploring a world where once in a blue moon experiences can happen all the time gave us a great big creative sandbox to play in,” says Myra Nussbaum, senior VP and group creative director at DDB Chicago.
The campaign comes as MillerCoors pours more money into Blue Moon marketing in an attempt to gain a larger slice of premium beer sales.
Blue Moon, which was once among MillerCoors' most-reliable growth engines, has cooled in recent years and even fallen into decline, although it has shown improvement of late. Sales volume at stores fell 7 percent in the first quarter, but in the second quarter sales volume declined by only 2 percent, according to IRI data cited by Evercore ISI. And the brand is now in positive territory, up by 1 percent so far in the third quarter as of Aug. 11.
But Blue Moon accounted for only 4 percent of MillerCoors’ total sales in the quarter-to-date period, trailing economy brands Keystone Light and Miller High Life, which each grabbed 6 percent of the brewer’s sales, according to Evercore ISI.
More marketing, fewer varieties
MillerCoors has increased marketing spending behind Blue Moon by more than 50 percent this year, says Bryan Ferschinger, MillerCoors’s VP for above-premium brands. He declined to reveal raw spending figures, but said the new ads will get a significant media buy that includes network primetime. Blue Moon ads will also run during National Football league games for the first time, he says.
Blue Moon presently sells about 2 million barrels a year, but “there is really nothing that should keep this from being even a 4 million-barrel brand,” Ferschinger says.
Blue Moon is not completely retreating from its ingredient story. One of the new ads features a close-up of the brew and its signature orange peel. “It still rings true as a true differentiator for us,” Ferschinger says of the brewing process, which includes mixing in Valencia orange peels. The new creative approach is “not walking away from that,” he says. Instead, the brand wants to “broaden that out even more and talk both at an emotional level and a functional level.”
Blue Moon has also made other strategic changes, like cutting the number of varieties it sells to focus on its main offerings: its core Belgian White variety and Mango Wheat and a seasonal blend. Coming soon is a seasonal “iced coffee blonde” brew, which plays into the coffee beer trend.
Not long ago, Blue Moon sold nine varieties, including an IPA and other blends, like a Horchata Ale. But the innovation blitz resulted in “confusion in the marketplace for consumers,” Ferschinger says. “We didn’t stay true to the roots of the brand, which is still inherently an approachable unique wheat beer.”