Exclusive: Miller set to roll Catfight sequels

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Despite-or perhaps because of-the furor over Miller Lite's "Catfight" commercial, SABMiller's Miller Brewing Co. is poised to unveil a handful of sequels, including one with a celebrity twist featuring bosomy ex-"Baywatch" babe Pamela Anderson.

People familiar with the situation said sequels are in the works and executives close to the brand said the spot with Ms. Anderson already has been shot. It will break after its unveiling at the brewer's annual wholesaler convention in March. Attempts to reach Ms. Anderson were not successful. WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, which handled the commercial, referred calls to Miller.

A spokesman for the brewer said "Catfight" was just the beginning. "It's exciting to have this kind of buzz around our brand."'

"Catfight" broke during January's National Football League playoffs and supposedly parodies a male Miller drinker's ideal beer ad-buxom women wrestling in wet concrete-about Lite's tastes-great, less-filling attributes. Though the commercial had commentators yapping and women's group's seething, it resonated with the beer's core consumer-20-something men-and elevated the sagging brand's talk value to a level unseen in recent history.

Catfighters Kitana Baker and Tanya Ballinger appeared on talk shows and got ink in publications from Sports Illustrated to The Orlando Sentinel and The Boston Globe with no ID other than the "Miller Lite catfight girls." The last week in January, queries about them ranked as one of the hottest Internet searches, according to Terra Lycos.

Floating idea

For a decade, various Miller agencies have floated the idea of women fighting in Jell-O or mud, said one knowledgeable person, but they never got buy-in since Miller was owned by Philip Morris Cos. The premise was deemed too lascivious for a tobacco marketer that nonetheless sold cheese to moms. "SAB is willing to take chances that Philip Morris was not," said one Southern distributor.

It's too early to tell whether wrestling women will boost sales of the No. 4 beer, said Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer's Insights. Anecdotally, for the four weeks ended Jan. 26, Miller Lite's market share in grocery stores-where most beer is sold-was off just 0.1% compared to a 0.2% drop for the 13-week period.

"They were looking to get noticed. They got noticed," Mr. Steinman said. "You could have ads generally thought to be terrific but that might not move the needle. There are a lot of other factors besides advertising."

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