Miller Genuine Draft makes ‘genuine’ the keyword in new U.S. rebrand
After a dramatic decline in its popularity over the past couple of decades, Miller Genuine Draft wants to make something of a comeback in the U.S., with parent company Molson Coors investing in a major brand refresh that is aimed at reinvigorating the cold-filtered brew’s relevance.
“The creative brief really was in the name of the brand itself: genuine,” says Paul Taylor, chief creative officer and founding partner at BrandOpus, the London-based creative agency that undertook the rebrand.
To get at the core of the “humble authenticity” that many consumers have long associated with Miller Genuine Draft, the brand’s messaging has shifted to bold, straightforward taglines such as “Scratch beneath the surface” and “Forge your own path.”
BrandOpus’ end goal was to “create a brand that has nothing to hide,” Taylor says. MGD is a new client for the agency, though it has worked on other Molson Coors projects for the British and Canadian markets over the past five years.
To successfully complete the project, which was set in motion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor and team also decided against wiping MGD’s slate clean and starting over, instead opting to amplify existing design elements such as the brand’s well-known eagle, red sun and black-red-and-gold color scheme.
“I think it’s important when you’re looking at any brand you’re trying to refresh, you look to retain the important memory structures and respect the heritage that it’s had. And for us, those visual equities, they allowed us to unlock this more genuine kind of meaning,” Taylor adds.
First introduced in stores in 1986, MGD’s popularity grew exponentially after its initial debut, and by the early ‘90s it had become one of the dominating beers in the U.S. market, spending big on Nascar sponsorships and topping several million barrels sold annually. But the brand’s run at the top was short-lived.
As early as 1992, MGD’s year-over-year sales began to slide and it was unable to rebound despite persistent—albeit inconsistent—messaging that has hyped everything from it’s cold filtration process to its sex appeal to its “macro-brewed” heritage.
A shell of its former self, MGD has appeared on less-than-ideal lists like USA Today’s “Nine beers many Americans no longer drink,” and since 2011, it has lost more sales volume in the U.S. than any other major beer brand, according to brand data published by creative non-profit The One Club. Its current American market share sits below 1%.
MGD was the No. 6 U.S. beer brand in 1993 at 7.1 million barrels shipped and fell to under 1 million barrels in 2019, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. It is poised to be closer to 400,000 million barrels for 2020 once the final figures are tallied.
But with an updated brand identity—one that’s more emotive, striking and recognizable for consumers amid an increasingly crowded beer aisle—Molson Coors hopes to breathe new life into a label that’s been in decline.
“We’ve had great success on packaging refreshes across other areas of our portfolio and we knew that a more impactful design would be a treat for our existing fans and hopefully attract new ones,” says Anne Pando, senior manager of the Miller brand family at Molson Coors.
Currently, MGD’s primary audience “does skew older and male,” she adds, though one aspect of the rebrand that will warrant renewed focus is bringing younger of-age drinkers into the fold.
The company is tight-lipped on its future advertising plans for MGD, with Pando saying only that Molson Coors “will be looking to draw attention to the brand and its new look” in the future. (Visual assets provided to Ad Age depict some sample out-of-home media renderings, including printed posters and digital billboards.)
MGD’s refreshed look has already started to appear on U.S. store shelves, though there is no word yet on when its latest rebrand will reach the approximately 50 other countries that the cold-filtered beer has a presence in.