MillerCoors is making a major marketing investment in Italian beer Peroni as it attempts to seize on recent sales weakness of competing European imports, Stella Artois and Heineken.
The brewer, which has controlled Peroni's U.S. marketing and distribution since 2005, will launch Peroni's first U.S. national campaign, including TV ads, later this month. The campaign is by MDC Partners-owned Mono of Minneapolis, which won the account last year.
Ads evoke a quirky sense of Italian style, using the tagline "Birra Beautifully." (Birra is Italian for beer.) One spot shows a couple converting blue-and-white striped beach umbrellas into a blazer and dress before heading to a beach bar. In another ad, a woman dives to the bottom of a pool in her dress to retrieve a bottle opener.
The media buy covers programming on ABC, NBC, Travel Channel, FX, Bravo, E!, Food Network, TLC, Comedy Central, TBS, and other networks.
"It's a dramatic increase in investment for the brand," says Paul Verdu, VP of sales and marketing for MillerCoors' craft and import beer division, known as Tenth and Blake.
The U.S. has always had "really powerful, healthy, strong and growing European import brands," he says. But he pointed to recent weakness in Heineken and Stella Artois as a sign of a new sales opportunity for the much-smaller Peroni to gain ground. The brew has "such a powerful premium image and strong trends. Now is the time for Peroni to claim the mantle," he says.
Heineken and Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Stella rank as the nation's third- and fourth-largest imported beers, behind Mexican beers Corona and Modelo Especial, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. But Stella and Heineken both lost market share last year. Peroni ranks 21st. Its market share was unchanged at 0.5 percent of the import segment. But Peroni shipments grew last year, while Stella and Heineken both fell, according to Beer Marketer's.