The country's No. 2 brewer unveiled plans Friday for a new flagship premium regular brand called simply "Miller" to fill the branding hole created when Miller High Life was moved to subpremium pricing. On Jan. 1, Miller breaks Genuine Draft ads that abandon the electronic wizardry that built the brand in favor of a lifestyle campaign.
Initial work on the Miller brand was done by Scaros & Casselman, Stamford, Conn. The brewer apparently hasn't decided whether that shop or former Anheuser-Busch agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis and New York, will handle the brand. Initial spending is estimated at $30 million.
The company said only that the new brand would be among "several" new premiums to be offered.
Miller distributors said the brand will be launched in the South and gradually roll national. Chairman Jack MacDonough last week wrote distributors saying the company needed a flagship brand to give the Miller name some high-visibility exposure to support a brand family.
While distribution of the new Miller brand will expand gradually, Miller Genuine Draft's new advertising from Bates USA, New York, will launch nationally on college football bowl programming.
Distributors say the lifestyle advertising will be accompanied by new black and gold package and label graphics that heighten the contrast between the elements. Miller also plans new Hispanic advertising from Marti, Flores, Prieto & Wachtel, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The campaign is Miller's attempt to revive Genuine Draft's growth after a decidedly bad year and a slide of several years.
In 1995, Miller Genuine Draft will see shipments slide more than 10%, while the whole beverage industry slides slightly over 1%, according to Impact, a beverage industry trade magazine.
Miller has been putting much of its efforts recently into new brands like Lite Ice and Red Dog, but the company denies industry suggestions that it took its eye off Genuine Draft, Miller's second-largest-selling brand behind Miller Lite.
For Bates, which once with Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft had much of Miller's advertising, the new Genuine Draft campaign could be a last chance to prove itself. Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, now handles Miller Lite and Bates has struggled to hang onto Genuine Draft.