Miller’s low-alcohol beer plugs ‘dry-ish’ January with ‘Succession’ actor Nicholas Braun
Miller64, the low-alcohol and low-calorie beer from MillerCoors, wants to give drinkers pause before they fully commit to Dry January, the monthlong post-holiday sobriety movement. Nicholas Braun, who plays “Cousin Greg” in HBO’s hit series “Succession,” stars in new ads that urge people to celebrate a “dry-ish” January, rather than going totally cold turkey.
The campaign by DDB Chicago comes as Dry January gains momentum, especially among younger generations. Nearly one-quarter of Americans made plans to participate in Dry January last year, according to a poll conducted by YouGov. But MillerCoors has its own data showing that a lot of people don’t stick to their pledges for all 31 days: 30 percent of people who tried to stay sober for the whole month fell short, and the average time it took to fall off the wagon was just seven days, according to a survey conducted for the company by Kelton, a strategic consulting agency specializing in market research.
Miller64’s campaign tries to take the guilt out of cheating. Ads, which will run on social media and via online videos throughout January, show Braun plugging the brand as “perfect for dry-ish January” because it only has 64 calories and 2.8 percent alcohol-by-volume. (Most regular light beers have 4.2 percent ABV with calorie counts in the 90s or 100s.)
“We all know that Dry January is part of cultural conversation with many of our targeted consumers making New Year’s resolutions. We also know that the vast majority of them don’t make it successfully through and give up after almost seven days,” says Anup Shah, global and North American VP of the Miller family of brands. “We thought his was really a unique and interesting way to insert Miller64 into that conversation and inspire consumers to what we call enjoy life’s ‘happy-medium’ moments. The product is well suited to deliver on that,” he adds, alluding to the low calorie count and low alcohol content.
The campaign marks a new investment in Miller64, which has not gotten much marketing support in recent years. The brand, originally launched as as MGD 64 in 2008, has never been able to make a dent in the dominance that Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra has in the low-cal beer category. But with the alcohol moderation trend accelerating, MillerCoors sees new opportunities with Miller64. In September, the brand rolled out a new look that includes brighter packaging with the phrase “Extra Light Beer” emblazoned on 12-packs and 6-packs.
Sales of Miller64 had declined by low double-digits every year since 2013, and the brand lost more than half its volume by 2018, Beer Marketer’s Insights reported in September, citing IRI data, noting that the brew’s sales were down 12 percent year-to-date through Aug. 11. But Shah says trends are improving since the brand makeover, with sales down 4 percent since the refresh.
Non-alc beers rising
The moderation trend has also spurred the development of more non-alcoholic beers. And marketers are planning to give them an extra push during Dry January. Heineken is coming out with limited-edition packaging for its alcohol-free Heineken 0.0, which entered the U.S. in January 2018. The “January Dry Pack,” created in partnership with Minneapolis-based agency Fast Horse, includes 31 cans, or one for every day of January. Limited quantities will be made available for free at a special website, which suggests that drinkers “put the zeros in 2020.”
Meantime, Brooklyn Brewery in January will roll out national distribution of “Brooklyn Special Effects,” described on its website as a “hoppy non-alcoholic brew” that can “take on midday lunch breaks, work happy hours, pre-workouts, watching the kids, very late nights and more.”
But Harpoon Brewery has a much different take on the month. The craft brewer is coming out with Dry January Triple IPA, a limited-edition release that contains a whopping 11 percent ABV. A package shot posted on the brewery’s website states: “We’re not sure who came up with the idea of spending their January beer-free, but we’d like to go on record and say—that sounds awful.”