Miller launches reworked ad campaign

Miller launches reworked ad campaign

Associated Press-Miller Brewing Co. hopes big bowling shoes and big laughs will lead to big sales in a new ad campaign to be launched Saturday for Genuine Draft.

Chief Executive Officer John Bowlin said he hopes the ads, one of which features a beer drinker with oversized bowling shoes, will help revive the company’s second largest brand.

“We think we’ve got it,” Chief Executive Officer John Bowlin said about the television spots.

Genuine Draft had declining sales from 1995 to 1998, but saw sales pick up in the last six months of 1999, Bowlin said.

One of the new ads, which use the tag line “Never Miss a Genuine Opportunity,” shows a guy at a bowling alley who isn’t happy about having to wear size 19 shoes-the only ones available.

As he laces the oversized shoes, he spots an attractive woman and has a Genuine Draft sent to her. The woman snickers at the guy, until he props up his feet and displays the huge shoes. A horse whinny is heard in the background.

Bob Mikulay, senior vice president of marketing, said the new campaign is witty and slightly irreverent– and industry observers say that’s not a bad approach.

“It’s clear they want to connect with the consumer with humor. That’s been a very popular tactic for the brewers,” said Benj Steinman, president of Beer Marketer’s Insights, a trade newsletter. Steinman on Thursday described the main consumers of beer as 21 to 27 year old males.

Another spot shows a young entrepreneur trying to secure funding for a new Web-based company, beansnow.com. He’s unsuccessful until he opens a Genuine Draft, spies a picture of a dog and quickly renames his Internet start-up after the pet of his prospective investor.

Both spots, created by Chicago-based J. Walter Thompson Co., will run Saturday during the Lakers-Trailblazers NBA game and Sunday during the NFL conference finals.

A third spot, created for Spanish-language viewers by LatinWorks, is set to debut in February. It shows a man getting stuck on an elevator with a group of women– and a Genuine Draft 12-pack.

Miller’s wholesale distributors liked what they saw during a sneak preview of the ads Wednesday.

“I think they’re wonderful,” said Aldo Madrigrano, president of Waukesha-based Wow Distributing Co. “It really gets to our drinker and what the Genuine Draft drinker is all about in different situations.”

During the early and mid ’90s, Miller used spots that emphasized Genuine Draft’s cold-filtered process, with classic rock music blaring in the

background.

However, Genuine Draft endured sales declines in 1995 and 1996. So Portland, Oregon-based Wieden & Kennedy– an agency that had done Nike’s ads– was hired to create a series of offbeat spots.

The next generation of ads, shot in black and white and with no spoken narration, ran in 1997 and 1998, but they didn’t stop the sagging sales and were dropped. Wieden & Kennedy produced a new campaign that Miller showed its wholesalers during a convention last March.

Those spots featured actual Miller brewery workers from Milwaukee literally singing the praises of Genuine Draft. It drew such a negative response that the company canceled the ads before they aired.

Just one month later, Jack MacDonough, chief executive officer before Bowlin, was fired, along with two other top executives. Later, Genuine Draft’s brand director quit, and Wieden & Kennedy was replaced by J. Walter Thompson.

“They didn’t have the advertising right,” Steinman said of Miller’s past efforts for Genuine Draft. “Here’s another try.”

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