Ad Age caught up with Mr. Jones at the NBWA event to
get his thoughts on the light beer category, as well as the
brewer's recent hiring of TBWA Worldwide, Los Angeles for the Miller
Lite creative account.
Age: Why did you pick TBWA for Miller Lite?
Jones: We said all along that we were looking for a
long-term partner. This wasn't about picking a specific script that
we liked. … It was great chemistry with us [and TBWA]. They
got the brands really well, but they also had a great understanding
of millennials and particularly Hispanic millennials. It was really
a unanimous decision. It was easy for us [and] we wanted to move
Age: Some analysts have suggested that big beer
brands are in the midst of an inevitable and irreversible decline,
saying that millennials don't want to drink their father's beer.
What is your response to this theory?
Jones: I think there is truth to that, but I don't
think that it is definitive. Just like any category, brands need to
constantly reinvent themselves to remain relevant for the next
generation of consumers.
is a mistake that perhaps we've made at times in the industry, it's
forgetting that who brought you here isn't going to bring you to
where you need to go. We are very conscious of that. And we are
very conscious of who we need to win with in the future, and that's
where we are putting our resources. You obviously don't want to
lose who brought you here, but as they age, they are not drinking
as much. So you have to go after those who are coming into the
Age: Now that you have a new agency for MIller
Lite, what can we expect creatively? Will you move away from humor
Jones: Humor is a part of our category, it's a part
of our brand. And I would expect that it will still remain a part
of what we do.
probably see us evolve to a form of humor that also helps elevate
the brand and reflects the intelligence of our consumer. We
definitely will talk about our product, just like we've been
talking about our product this year. Because I think we do believe
there is an opportunity to speak about the beer credentials of our
Age: Has MillerCoors adequately defended the light
beer category and Miller Lite against critics?
Jones: Any time a brand gets away from its story it
generally starts to suffer. I do think that we got away from really
what we were all about, probably over the last decade. The
packaging and the white can [for Miller Lite] helped us rediscover
actually look at the world of lighter, sessionable beers, consumers
are still drinking a lot of that. They have moved away perhaps a
bit from what we've defined as the big three, the domestic premium
down in Charlotte a month ago, and we were talking to some
consumers and they said, 'I drink light beer. My favorite light
beer is Miller High Life.' Obviously it's not a light beer by our
definition. But just because a brand doesn't have the word 'lite'
or 'light' at the end of it doesn't mean that they count that as
part of a different category.
Age: What, specifically, was the mistake that
Miller Lite made?
Jones: For one, we did move away from talking about
our product. The last time we talked about our product was probably
six or seven or eight years ago. And so as somebody who is 21 or 22
now today, they never heard us talk about that.
We are a
great, authentic light beer. We invented this category. We are a
pilsner beer. We have a lot of great credential stories that we
definitely stopped talking about. Maybe we did start to play the
game a little bit of chasing each other [chasing competitors]
… instead of being true to who we really were.
Age: Where is Coors Light headed?
Mr. Jones: Fundamentally, our
strategy is sound on Coors Light. [But] we have, over the course of
the last six months, discovered a few things. One is that while we
own the notion of cold, consumers aren't laddering that to a
specific, or particular, benefit that is relevant to them. So what
you will see us starting to do … is connect the dots between
what cold gives you. ... Again, back to talking a bit about the
product: Our obsession with cold, cold filtered, cold bottled,
never exposed to the extremes of heat -- all of that gives you a
cleaner, crisper, smoother, more refreshing beer, which supports
the notion of us being the world's most refreshing beer.