MillerCoors makes big stars out of small business owners

MillerCoors and AOR Dig Communications developed a PR initiative to support Miller High Life's Super Bowl ad.

Client

MillerCoors (Chicago)

PR agency

Dig Communications (Chicago)

Campaign

"Little Guys on the Big Game"

Duration

November 2009-February 2010

Budget

$80,000

MillerCoors and AOR Dig Communications developed a PR initiative to support Miller High Life's Super Bowl ad, which focused on four small businesses: Del's Barber Shop in Escondido, CA; Loretta's Authentic Pralines in New Orleans; Bizarre Guitar & Drum in Phoenix; and Tim's Baseball Card Shop in Chicago.

Miller High Life's brand position is centered on common sense, and Jon Stern, MillerCoors' marcomms director, says the businesses were chosen because they embodied common sense, authenticity, and community commitment.

The ad only aired in local markets because Anheuser-Busch is the exclusive beer category sponsor for the Super Bowl, Stern says.

"We hoped to drive nation- al awareness and business results with, essentially, a lo- cal market ad buy," he adds.

STRATEGY

The team found and enlisted the businesses, while Saatchi & Saatchi did the ads. Before, during, and after the Super Bowl on February 7, the team used national and local media relations and digital outreach to drive awareness and excitement among consumers, distributors, and retailers.

Windell Middlebrooks, the actor in the popular Miller High Life ads (shown right), was a media spokesperson, along with the four business owners.

TACTICS

A teaser ad aired nationally for two weeks starting January 25, the day MillerHighLife.com launched. Stern says it helped prepare people for the Super Bowl ad concept and kicked off the PR campaign.

The team targeted general consumer and business outlets, and ad, marketing, and industry trades. The business owners conducted interviews about how involvement with the effort impacted them personally and professionally. The team also pitched local media in the small businesses' hometowns.

Jody Moore, account director at Dig, says the business owners weren't intensely media trained and were told to answer media questions in their own words to maintain authenticity. She adds Middlebrooks did 30 interviews on the Tuesday prior to the big game in Miami. He also ap-peared at area retail stores.

All website content reflected the campaign from January 25 to March 3. Miller High Life's Facebook page and website in- cluded features on each business, as well as on additional small businesses in key markets.

During the Super Bowl, the ad was embedded in a social media release and posted on MillerHighLife.com, Facebook, and YouTube. After the game, the team pitched follow-up stories focusing on how the ad impacted the four businesses.  

RESULTS

Stern reports a 2.8% sales lift for the four-week period leading up to the Super Bowl, compared to the same period in 2009. This equates to more than 140,000 incremental cases sold versus the prior year, the company says.

"If a beer brand is up 0.5% to 1% for the year, that's considered significant growth," he adds.

Bob Turner, owner of Bizarre Guitar & Drum, reported to Stern that March 2010 business was up 300% compared to March 2009. Tim's Baseball Card Shop owner Tim Herron reported February business was four times that of an average month prior to the campaign.

MillerHighLife.com had about 458,000 visits between January 25 and March 1, says Moore. Facebook fans increased 9,618 between January 25 and February 14.

Media impressions exceeded 65 million in outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, Sports Business Daily, and AdAge.

FUTURE

Miller High Life's "Give a Veteran a Piece of the High Life," in partnership with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, kicked off on July 4 and will run through September.

Tanya Lewis

This was a creative, smart campaign that really paid off for both MillerCoors and the small businesses. While Stern says all MillerCoors campaigns are highly integrated, this one is a good example of how well-conceived and well-executed integrated programs can enhance the power of individual marketing disciplines and drive significant business results. The effort also helped small businesses during a tough economic period. The PR team was very involved in conceiving the campaign, and the entire team seems to work exceptionally well together.

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