Sol cycle: MillerCoors wants to crack the Mexican import market

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Sol Origin 3x2
Sol Origin 3x2 Credit: Sol

When it comes to Mexican beers, Corona might own the beach, but MillerCoors is staking its claim to the sun. After taking control of little-known Sol beer last fall from Heineken, the brewer is now backing it with a sizeable campaign in attempt to win loyalty from Mexican-American drinkers in their twenties.

The beer is a significant force in Mexico, ranking as the sixth-largest brew as of 2016, according to the latest data from Euromonitor International. But Heineken barely backed Sol in the U.S., opting to pour marketing behind its other Mexican brews, Dos Equis and Tecate. Sol marks MillerCoors' entry into the Mexican beer segment, which of late has been dominated by Constellation Brands. Constellation's sales have soared thanks to Modelo Especial and Corona, whose long-running "Find Your Beach" campaign has propelled it to the top spot among all imported beers.

While Corona has long targeted a broad swath of general market consumers, Sol is going squarely after second-generation Mexican Americans. The new campaign, by Alma DDB, leans into Sol's Mexican heritage while seeking to make a connection to drinkers who are into creativity and self-expression. "Sol for us represents optimism. It represents a vibrancy and beauty that comes from the heart of Mexico—that is where flavor and color and food and family all play a really critical role," says Ashley Selman, VP of emerging and economy brands for MillerCoors.

Ads were shot in Mexico City over four days and feature real-life street dancers, designers artists, rappers and a soccer player. The Spanish song backing the ads, "Brillando," which translates as "Shining," was custom-made by Alma for the campaign and sung by Amanda Escalante Pimentel, known as Amandititita, who is originally from Tampico, Mexico.

On-screen copy in one ad describes the beer as "inspired by the sun." That is a reference to Sol's 1899 founding in Mexico, where a brewmaster was inspired by sunlight coming through a hole in the brewery's roof. Itis supposed to have led to the creation Sol, which translates to sun. The lighter-bodied brew was a departure from the darker beers being made at the time, according to the origin story recounted on MillerCoors' corporate blog.

MillerCoors declined to reveal spending behind the campaign but Selman described it as "one of the most heavily supported new brand launches in many years for MillerCoors." Spending is split 80 percent on English language networks and 20 percent on Spanish properties, including Telemundo, where Sol will run ads in heavy rotation during the World Cup. MillerCoors also plans to make a splash during the summer solstice.

The ads are directed by Stacey Lee & Anthony Mathile, a directing duo known for their raw documentary style. They are represented by the production company Missing Pieces (which goes by "m ss ng p eces"). "This was a unique approach since a non-Hispanic director was going to direct a spot that has strong Latino influences. Yet it is through fresh eyes that new forms of expression are found," Luis Miguel Messianu, Alma's creative chairman and CEO, said in an email.

The ads were cast by 19-year old Maria Osado of a street-casting firm called Guerxs, who found people by using Instagram, Snapchat and walking the streets. "We wanted every aspect of this campaign to be true to the Chicano culture, including the styling," Messianu said. "Mexican fashion is in a really exciting phase right now, combining the energy of a young generation with the experience and tradition of an older one. We wanted to tap into that with the styling and create an aesthetic that is both traditional and modern at the same time."

The ads come as MillerCoors updates Sol's packaging to give it a brighter feel. "Somewhere along the line the packaging had become really dark. They turned the sun black," Selman says.

See the before and after here:

Sol before & after
Sol before & after Credit: Sol

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