MillerCoors is making a major marketing investment in Italian beer Peroni as it attempts to seize on recent sales weakness of competing European imports, Stella Artois and Heineken.
The brewer, which has controlled Peroni's U.S. marketing and distribution since 2005, will launch Peroni's first U.S. national campaign, including TV ads, later this month. The campaign is by MDC Partners-owned Mono of Minneapolis, which won the account last year.
Ads evoke a quirky sense of Italian style, using the tagline "Birra Beautifully." (Birra is Italian for beer.) One spot shows a couple converting blue-and-white striped beach umbrellas into a blazer and dress before heading to a beach bar. In another ad, a woman dives to the bottom of a pool in her dress to retrieve a bottle opener.
The media buy covers programming on ABC, NBC, Travel Channel, FX, Bravo, E!, Food Network, TLC, Comedy Central, TBS, and other networks.
"It's a dramatic increase in investment for the brand," says Paul Verdu, VP of sales and marketing for MillerCoors' craft and import beer division, known as Tenth and Blake.
The U.S. has always had "really powerful, healthy, strong and growing European import brands," he says. But he pointed to recent weakness in Heineken and Stella Artois as a sign of a new sales opportunity for the much-smaller Peroni to gain ground. The brew has "such a powerful premium image and strong trends. Now is the time for Peroni to claim the mantle," he says.
Heineken and Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Stella rank as the nation's third- and fourth-largest imported beers, behind Mexican beers Corona and Modelo Especial, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. But Stella and Heineken both lost market share last year. Peroni ranks 21st. Its market share was unchanged at 0.5 percent of the import segment. But Peroni shipments grew last year, while Stella and Heineken both fell, according to Beer Marketer's.
A light craft brew
MillerCoors is also pouring more money behind its Saint Archer Gold brand that the brewer is positioning as a light craft beer. Saint Archer is a San Diego-based craft brewery that MillerCoors acquired in 2015. The beer is being sold in Austin, Texas, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Arizona, with MillerCoors eyeing a national launch as soon as 2020, according to its corporate blog.
A new campaign hitting the four initial markets plays off the light theme. "Finding your way is better with a light" states one ad, which shows a skateboarder, bicycle riders setting in for a night of drinking, guided to their destinations by natural and man-made lighting. Ads are by Preacher, which won the account late last year.
Craft brands have long been associated with hoppy, heavier beers, but there is rising interest in lighter offerings. Saint Archer has 4.2 percent alcohol-by-volume, with 95 calories per serving.
Verdu says the goal of the new campaign is to educate drinkers who might have heard of the brand. "If consumers are intrigued by the ads, they are one click away from realizing that Saint Archer is a real brewery, with really cool people, who run it out of San Diego," he says. "There is a real story here. It's not just something that is made up out of thin air."
Below, two other ads from the new campaign.