MillerCoors taps into '90s nostalgia for Zima relaunch

The campaign team wanted to use a celebrity seeding initiative with familiar '90s faces to help get the word out about the summer release of the product.

Company: MillerCoors
Campaign: Zima Comeback
Agency mix: Olson Engage (PR), Mekanism (digital) Epic Signal (digital/social)
Duration: May - August 31, 2017
Budget: $225,000 for PR

Zima, a beloved transparent malt beverage from the 1990s, recently made a comeback. Because it was a limited release, parent MillerCoors had to quickly reignite Zima fans and earn new ones.

MillerCoors and Olson Engage began planning for the campaign last year.

"The first goal was awareness," explained Bryan Ferschinger, VP of innovation and national craft at MillerCoors. "Zima was only on shelves for two months, so we had to let people know we were back, and quickly."

The campaign team wanted to use a celebrity seeding initiative with familiar '90s faces to help get the word out about the summer release of the product. In addition, the brand wanted to use a targeted media outreach effort to inform a broad range of outlets that Zima was coming back.

"We pursued everyone from top-tier national publications like The Washington Post, to millennial outlets like BuzzFeed and Cheddar TV, and local TV news affiliates," said Ferschinger.

MillerCoors also wanted to drive traffic to social channels and help get the attention of millennials by developing a partnership with a notable influencer. For Facebook, the brand had an innovative way to involve fans in the Zima comeback.

"A group of dedicated Zima fans had been running a Facebook fan page for years, sharing their favorite stories and asking MillerCoors to bring the brand back," said Ferschinger. "Instead of creating a whole new page from scratch, we merged the existing fan page with our newly created content and website, which brought a lift in excitement and conversation immediately."

MillerCoors launched a '90s-themed microsite to go along with the campaign.

In February, the brand began seeding the product to '90s icons like Mario Lopez from Saved by the Bell, Jennie Garth from Beverly Hills, 90210, and the popular '90s band Third Eye Blind. The influencers were encouraged to share the news on social channels.

The team also did a VIP drop of the product to Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien in hopes of netting broadcast mentions.

To create awareness and excitement with millennials and to let them know now they could get their hands on Zima as well, the brand worked with social media influencer network FuckJerry in June to create a series of memes to drive affinity and purchase for Zima.

In mid-June, the brand did a final media push by issuing a traditional press release via PR Newswire. To go along with the '90s theme, the team faxed the release to local TV stations in target distribution markets before it went live online.

On June 19, the company released a brand video, produced in partnership with Mekanism and social agency Epic Signal, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. The "Back, Not Back" video theme was continued in short-form content posted on branded channels throughout the summer.

"We also tested a chatbot function on Facebook Messenger where fans could communicate with the brand in real-time," added Ferschinger.

Zima hit the shelves on the Fourth of July 2017 and remained available through Labor Day in early September.

The Zima relaunch campaign generated 167 total media placements. Notable outlets included: Vogue, BuzzFeed, People, Food & Wine, Bustle, and Barstool Sports. The brand also saw 53 broadcast mentions about Zima's comeback, including a mention during an opening monologue of Jimmy Kimmel Live!

The Zima microsite landed more than 92,000 unique monthly visitors, with 52% of people spending more than a minute on the site, and 8% spending more than five minutes on the site.

On social, the Zima page earned more than 28,000 Facebook fans and generated more than 5,000 shares of campaign content.

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