CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- In a move it hopes will restore growth and distinguish it from its new, faster-growing stable mate, Miller Lite is returning to the "great taste, less filling" tagline that launched the brand during the 1970s.
|Great taste! Less filling!
As marketing efforts in recent years have focused on the brands' Rocky Mountain heritage, Coors Light and Coors Banquet have seen sales soar. Miller going back to the tagline that made it one of the most successful product launches in the history of the American beer business seems cut right from that playbook.
The original light beer
The original "Great Taste, Less Filling" campaign from McCann Erickson Worldwide, which made its debut in 1974, introduced the nation to light beer. The ads -- featuring a bunch of ex jocks dubbed the "Miller Lite All Stars" arguing over the beer's attributes -- helped put a masculine spin on a diet-oriented product many at the time worried would be seen as less than manly.
Ad Age ranked that campaign as the eighth-best ad effort of the century.
Lite -- and light beer -- was an instant success, and became the category's leading brand until 1994, when it was overtaken by Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light. Miller Lite's loss of the category lead has been partially attributed to the series of much-mocked campaigns that followed the "great taste" effort, including one from Leo Burnett with the insipid tagline "It's it and that's that."
While sales did rally dramatically in 2003 and 2004 under low-carb, more-taste pushes, Miller Lite's messaging has been somewhat mushy ever since, first under the unsuccessful "Man Laws" campaign from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, which focused on general ideas of manliness rather than product attributes, and lately under the "Ultimate Light Beer" tagline from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which has relied on a dizzying number of attribute-oriented claims.
Sales were slightly up last year, while both Coors Light and Bud Light saw greater gains.
Coors Light and Miller Lite, former rivals, became teammates under MillerCoors when their brewers entered a joint venture in the U.S. earlier this summer. The two brands have not simultaneously gained market share since the mid-1990s, raising concerns that the fortunes of the new company's two largest brands may be somehow inherently opposed.
MillerCoors executives have taken issue with that notion, saying that taking a distinct positioning will be able to grow both brands. "Research has shown the two factors that matter the most to mainstream light beer drinkers are taste and refreshment," the company said today in a message to distributors. "And so the path to simultaneous share growth for Miller Lite and Coors Light is clear: We will distinctly align each brand against one of these benefits, driving home our positions in everything we do on behalf of each brand."