It's a guerrilla (ad) tactic that talks to a real trend that's happening in the market

6. CAMPAIGN SUMMARY “It's a guerrilla (ad) tactic that talks to a real trend that's happening in the market.” - Benj Steinmen, editor of beer newsle...
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“It's a guerrilla (ad) tactic that talks to a real trend that's happening in the market.” - Benj Steinmen, editor of beer newsletter Beer Marketer's Insights, quoted in January 20, 2009 issue of USA Today

In 2009, Miller High Life re-wrote the rule book on television advertising. With just one 1-second ad it has achieved what other advertisers have failed to achieve with multi-million dollar sustained campaigns. With Super Bowl half time advertising rates soaring through the roof at a staggering $3m for 30 seconds, Miller chose to upset the status quo and air a 1-second ad, despite, as many pioneering concepts often do, attracting resistance from the broadcaster and competitors alike. The concept supported the brand’s value of ‘common sense thinking’. Supported by a dedicated website and widespread PR exposure in the lead up to the airing, Miller successfully generated a nationwide buzz surrounding the ad, with viewers tuning in with anticipation of the infamous 1-second ad.

7. Marketing Context Market Conditions 20.42

Bud Light 10.49

Budweiser Coors Light


Miller Lite

7.57 6.1

Natural Light Busch


Busch Light


Corona Extra


Miller High Life


Keystone Light



2.04 1.12



MGD 64 0






Share of Total Beer 2008

Miller High Life operates in an extremely competitive market (see figure above). Added to this, the segment that MHL competes in has been in decline over the years. However, with the onset of the economic downturn, consumers have been increasingly opting for belowpremium-priced beer*, looking to make ‘smarter’ buying decisions. This shift in buying behaviour presented an opportunity for the brand to reinforce its positioning as the brand of common sense. *Source: Beer Marketer's Insights

Cementing High Life as the Common Sense Brand Through its ‘Take Back the High Life’ campaign over the last three years, Miller High Life (MHL) has sought to position itself as the brand that stands for ‘common sense in a world gone crazy’, in essence, the beer for the ‘everyman’. The 1-second ad campaign would be a natural extension of this campaign, further cementing its position as the common sense brand.

8. Campaign Planning The Opportunity The Super Bowl is one of the most important dates in the advertising calendar. Viewed by over 100 million people, the influence of this major event is undeniable. Not surprisingly, most advertisers want a piece of the action. The Super Bowl is no longer viewed as merely a sporting event, it has become a highly anticipated entertainment event, with the pre-game show, half time show and advertising generating as much interest as the sporting event itself. In fact, in a survey by the Nielsen Company, it was revealed the majority of Super Bowl viewers enjoy the game’s ads more than the action on the field.

Turning an Obstacle into an Opportunity Over the last few years Super Bowl advertising rates having soared to an unprecedented $3m per 30 seconds. Though MHL recognised the power of the Super Bowl and the hugely receptive audience, budget restraints (and of course, common sense) has meant it has traditionally sat back and left the ‘bigger players’ to dominate the event with multi-million dollar ad campaigns. In 2009, MHL recognised that this state of affairs offered the perfect opportunity to highlight what it considered to be ‘the world gone crazy’ and reinforce the High Life message of common sense and rejection of pretention.

The Trailblazing Idea $3m for 30 seconds? Hardly a common sense purchase and certainly flies in the face of everything MHL stands for. Miller high Life instead struck upon an ingenious concept that would not only allow it to take advantage of the huge audience the super bowl commands, but position it as the brand that champions common sense and represents the voice of the everyman. Their answer was to fly in the face of convention and air a 1 second ad during the Super Bowl. The ad would be the hook for a multimedia campaign whose theme and key message focused on the fact that High Life has too much common sense to spend $3 million for 30 seconds of air time. A one-second ad was not just an unusual move; it was a pioneering concept and a first for the beer industry. But like all good ground breaking concepts, it was met with strong resistance....

What We Were Up Against A Tight Budget Any Marketing and advertising campaign would need to deliver exceptional ROI and value for money. With a budget of just $1.9m, we had to think creatively to deliver any meaningful return. No mean feat when you’re fighting for exposure during one of the most competitive times of the year.

Fierce Competition MHL competes in a fiercely competitive market. Just some of the competition hurdles facing MHL included: • • •

Coors Light is the official sponsor of the National Football League, is on-site at the game, and owns the rights to the name “Super Bowl.” Anheuser Busch spends about $27 million advertising in the Super Bowl, and approximately an additional $19million for exclusivity to lock other beer advertisers out of the national broadcast. Added to this, this time period is typically dedicated to Premium Light beers and as the #9 beer brand in the U.S, consumer do not expect to see Miller High Life during the game.

Battling the Broadcaster With our 1-second ad, it’s fair to say we were seriously upsetting the status quo. A 1-second ad goes against every instinct for broadcasters and it’s therefore not surprising that NBC Universal not only expressed its disapproval at our apparent mockery of other advertisers, but took the unusual step to ban the ad from their owned and operated stations. This move deprived us of 10 major markets during the big game. Not to be beaten, we overcame this obstacle by running on non-owned and operated NBC affiliates, which enabled us still to reach over 75% of Miller High Life consumers (by volume) through purchasing 110 markets. By buying advertising space locally this way, we were also able to get around Anheuser Busch’s exclusivity deal.

Getting Around the Rules There was one last, but rather critical hurdle for our big idea: TV stations are not formatted to run onesecond adverts and can only run a minimum of a five second slot. We overcame this by purchasing five seconds of airtime and running the one-second unit with two-seconds of blank lead-in and lead-out.

Extensive Research Ensuring Our Campaign Would Push the Right Buttons Comprehensive research underpinned this unusual campaign, including: • •

Research into the obstacles and opportunities surrounding the Super Bowl, such as identifying loopholes in the Anheuser Busch exclusivity deal. Gaining additional understanding of the campaign’s impact by conducting pre- and post-campaign research to track sales and brand equity impact.

Maximising the Budget As a challenger brand without the luxury of market dominance or a big budget, MHL would need to draw on creative tools and techniques to generate maximum impact for the campaign. It was considered that PR offer the most effective and cost-efficient way of exploiting multiple channels and encouraging consumer interaction and engagement with the campaign. With a PR budget of just $18,000 the Miller PR team conceived and implemented a PR campaign that was as instrumental and influential as the pioneering ad itself.

Goal & Objectives Campaign Objectives • • •

Reinforce the High Life brand position as ‘The beer of common sense’ Increase market share by .1 pts Drive consistent sales growth for the first half of 2009.

Campaign Targets Use the Big Idea as a platform to: • • • • • •

Generate extensive media coverage and build consumer buzz for Miller High Life before, during and after the Super Bowl Help support the brand’s key messages (see later) Help drive 2 percent sales growth for Miller High Life during the Super Bowl selling period Drive 200,000 to the High Life website Drive significant media coverage in the top 20 key High Life markets and create at least three national placements Incorporate a viral, online component to expand the campaign’s reach, attracting at least 500,000 visits.

Key Messages • • •

In a world gone crazy, Miller High Life is a refuge for the real Miller High Life is the beer of common sense Miller High Life represents value for money

Target Audience In order to achieve each objective, the communications plan targeted both on internal audiences (employees, retailers and beer distributors) and external audiences (consumers and media).

9. Marketing Communication Strategies Creating a Buzz of Anticipation The first phase of the campaign was to create a buzz surrounding the one-second ad prior to its February airing. On 20th January 2009, we commenced a comprehensive teaser campaign to build awareness and anticipation of the event. The idea was to promote the airing of the one-second ad as an event in itself.

The Ad Itself On February 1st 2009, we aired our 1 second ad during the Super Bowl. The ad gave High Life a chance to highlight the brand’s value and common sense positioning, and simply featured the beer deliveryman enthusiastically shouting “High Life!” The ad was in stark contrast to Anheuser-Busch’s approach, which aired 10 TV ads, valued at a cost of over $30 million.

Campaign Delivery A 360° Programme


As intriguing and thought-provoking as a one-second ad is, we knew it could not be effective on its own. To have any impact in this crowded market, the ad would need to be supported with a comprehensive multi-media strategy, incorporating online, print and broadcast media and retail outlets.




Tonight Show Radio

The Face of Common Sense Putting a face to the High Life brand and common sense message was an important part of engaging the consumer. To give consumers the sense that they can relate to the brand, we needed the campaign to be fronted by an ‘everyman’ – a personality that people warm to , trust and relate to. The chosen face of the campaign was Windell Middlebrooks. Windell had the benefit of having already become a well known and likeable figure, having fronted our ‘take back the High Life’ campaign. In a series of online ads and videos, the MHL delivery man ‘put the world to rights’ as the voice of the everyday worker, in particular commenting on the ‘crazy’ amounts of money spent by advertisers.

Windell Middlebrooks had become a likeable and familiar character thanks to our previous ‘Take Back the High Life’ campaign

We were also able to use Windell to front interviews with broadcast media. By personifying the brand’s common sense values, it served to engage consumers and create a sense of ‘them versus us [Miller and its customers]’.

Viral Marketing Our online education campaign was led by a viral marketing approach which included the creation of a dedicated website to the one-second ad containing a 30-second teaser as well as some of our ads that didn’t make the cut. The snowball effect of the viral campaign was immediate and impressive: The videos quickly spread to a host of other sites, including YouTube which alone attracted over 900,000 hits.

One of our teaser online viral ads

Getting Our People On Board We harnessed the MillerCoors intranet and system-wide emails to share High Life football-themed point-ofsale signage and ideas for leveraging the One-Second Ad campaign at retail. This helped engage our people and retailers in the campaign.

10. Media Strategy In January 2009, we distributed a national social media news release, featuring embedded video, images and hyperlinks to the teaser site. This was distributed to radio, TV, print and online media. Our 360 degree multimedia strategy had an immediate impact, with each channel feeding into the next, fuelling hype and awareness in a dramatic snowball effect. As news of the one-second ad spread like wild fire across internet chat rooms, groups and blogs, the story gained even more momentum, and it wasn’t long before the story was being featured on National and local TV news and national newspapers and radio. The uniqueness of the campaign and its relevance in light of the recession had clearly struck a chord with the public, culminating in coverage on high impact shows such as Good Morning America and ABC World News. The coverage of the campaign reached an audience of over 60 million.

Print Media We chose to launch our campaign with an exclusive article in USA Today. This would reach both their print and online audience and featured an interview about the campaign concept with our CMO Andy England. This one article reached an estimated 2.3 million. Through a drip feed of press releases and interviews with key Company figures, the PR campaign generated nearly 100 press articles across local and national print media.

Broadcast Media •

During the week of the Super Bowl, Windell appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to premiere the one-second ad. Such a high profile show was a major coup for the campaign and generated an estimated 4.6 million viewers.

We broadcast a 30 Second TV Spot, aired on national television during the week leading up to the Super Bowl (60 TRP’s). This delivered the anticipated program visually in order to increase interest and awareness in the build up as well as frame the communication of the 1 Second Ad campaign We aired a 60 Second Radio Spot 2 weeks before the big game (75 TRPs) to extend our reach especially in the sports radio realm.

Through press releases and arranging interviews with Windell and local and National radio and TV stations, our broadcast media strategy delivered: • •

Just under 300 National and local TV slots Just under 100 radio slots

Journalist Tools We tried to make life as easy as possible for journalists to encourage them to cover the campaign story. In addition to embedding video into the initial release, we also: • •

Made key figures, including our CMO and Windell Middlebrooks available for interview. We coordinated hundreds of radio, print, TV and online interviews in key local markets. Developed an Online Media Kit as a one-stop-spot where media could obtain high-res images, broadcast-quality video footage, news releases and sound bytes .

Digital Media The Dedicated Website We needed a point of reference to hang the story from and communicate it to the widest possible audience. Therefore, prior to the Super Bowl, we launched the dedicated one-second ad website,, which brought the following to the campaign: • • •

A foundation for the viral marketing campaign A way to tell the story behind the campaign to support the ad. A tool to build the Windell character, get consumers relating to the campaign personality, in turn helping to achieve consumer buy-in.

The site included: • • •

All possible 1 Second Ad commercials and outtakes which consumers could watch, share and comment on the video and campaign. Additional 30 second sketch featuring Windell and the MHL delivery guys. “What else you can get for $3 million” page with humorous examples of what $3MM will purchase. received over 240K visits in the January/February timeframe.

Social Media Video spots were placed on YouTube, Yahoo’s and’s Super Bowl sections. Within days of the 1-second ad website launching, the videos had spread across the web, eventually leading to coverage across over 300 websites.

11. Creative Strategy The Insights Behind the Creative Strategy As well as the research outlined in “Extensive Research” (section 8), the creative strategy was informed by: • •

A Segmentation research study to find out more about the target audience (males 30-45) and their feelings about the economy, media consumption habits and interests/activities. Informal focus groups with a variety of key audiences, including Miller Brewing local market managers, beer distributors and consumers to find out more about opportunities surrounding the Super Bowl in the retail world and beyond.

A key finding was a clear definition of our target audience: Commonsensical guys Commonsensical guys are typically 28-44 and drink 6 more domestic beers each week The commonsensical guy has an independent mind and sees right through hype and nonsense. He’s true to himself and doesn’t go for the latest, greatest thing. He thinks Ashton Kutcher is full of shit. He loves Led Zeppelin, Spaghetti Westerns, Levi’s jeans. Things that have stood the test of time. He is strong willed, smart and believes that frugality is wisdom. He prefers things that are real and that are a good value.

The specific impression we desired from the execution The commonsensical guy learned about beer on the streets, not from some poser beer expert. After being on the receiving end of this campaign he will know that Miller High Life is the best quality for the price so he won’t waste his money on something else just to make an impression.

Creating the One-Second Ad Please refer to previous sections for details regarding the implementation of the creative strategy: • • • •

To see the rationale behind the creative concept, see “The Opportunity” (section 8). For details of the main creative (the 1 second advert itself) see “The Ad Itself” (section 9). For details on the use of Windell Middlebrooks see “The Face of Common Sense” (section 9). The other creatives outlined earlier were: o The viral marketing (see section 9). o 60 Second Radio Spot (see section 10). o The dedicated website (see section 10).


Videos for including in dedicated website and social media including “the making of” and “outtakes” as well as additional sketches (see section 10).

12. Evidence of Results One Second to Turn a Brand Around Exceeding Expectations Generate extensive media coverage and build consumer buzz for Miller High Life

More than 5,000 newspaper, television, radio and online stories featured the Miller High Life OneSecond Ad campaign!

Drive significant media coverage in the top 20 key High Life markets and create at least three national placements

The team secured placements in the top 250 High Life markets, and generated national coverage on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “ABC World News Tonight” and “GMA”

Help drive 2 percent sales growth for Miller High Life during the Super Bowl selling period

Miller High Life sales during the week after the Super Bowl increased an unprecedented 9 percent. Furthermore, sales maintained a dramatic increase during each of the three months following the campaign.

Incorporate a viral component to expand reach, attracting at least 500,000 visits

The teaser Web site and YouTube videos combined to attract more than 1.2 million

Drive consistent sales growth for the first half of 2009.

Sales volume grew versus YAGO in 20 of 22 weeks following the Super Bowl, and were up 5% at midyear helping Miller High Life gain dollar share for the first time since 2002.

Creating an Online Buzz The graph below highlights the huge scale of the buzz surrounding the campaign, achieved through a sustained and creative multimedia campaign. Buzz surrounding the MHL brand far exceeds that of our biggest competitor and market leader Bud Light and Bud. Internet Buzz Tracking Comparison Immediate Post-Superbowl

Bud Light Superbow l Bud Superbow l Ads 1-Second Ad 0








% of All Blog Posts

Brand Impact & Engagement ACT Average

Brand Associations (Communication) It suggests that Miller High Life is a common sense beer

Creative Engagement (Branding/Empathy) I would definitely remember the ad was for Miller High Life

I enjoyed watching it a lot

I’m getting tired of seeing it

Motivation/Empathy It contained different information than other ads for beer

It made the brand seem more appealing It made me more likely to drink the brand It is the sort of ad I would talk about with friends

 

An unanticipated outcome of the campaign was that, by breaking the rules, solidifying brand positioning, and driving the greatest level of buzz during one of the busiest beer-selling time-periods, Miller High Life established itself as a thought leader in the category. The brand has been reported in consumer tracking to have developed a reputation of innovation. This innovation is not through product-evolution, but through idea generation.

Outstripping Our Competitors Miller High Life volume growth during the 2009 Super Bowl aperture versus the previous year far exceeded our competitors, most of whom had far larger marketing and advertising budgets.


Case Share Change vs.YAGO 4 weeks ending 3/21/09

Case Volume % Change vs.YAGO 4 weeks ending 3/21/09

7 3 -1 -5 -9 -13









The results show MHL has managed to achieve significant sales growth, without cannibalising off other Miller brands.

Record Sales Growth Miller High Life has experienced an unprecedented consistency of volume growth following the Super Bowl. Following the campaign, MHL saw eight consecutive weeks of positive volume growth. In fact, MHL grew volume vs. year ago in 20 out of the 22 weeks following the “1 Second Ad” campaign.

Increased market Share Following the campaign our share of the market increased 4% - the 4th biggest increase in the sector and moving us up to places in the market rankings to #7. 2009 200


180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20







2.2 -1.9







Top US Beer Brands by share of total beer

Industry Praise The pioneering campaign has drawn praise and recognition from across the industry in the form of a number of awards and accolades, including: • • •

Winner- Cannes Silver Lion award at the Cannes International Film Festival (Film category) Winner- Association of National Advertisers Multicultural Excellence in Marketing Award (General Market category) Finalist- MediaPost’s Creative Media Award (Creative category).

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