MillerCoors recently announced that the creative account for Miller Lite, the fourth-largest beer brand in the US, has been put up for review, and has sent requests for proposals to the Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Chicago, Omnicom's TBWA LA and WPP's Royal Order, a new shop led by Ogilvy Chicago. These means most of the major holding companies in the advertising industry are present and accounted for, so the review should be quite a heated affair. The agencies will be presenting ideas for ads that the brand plans to debut in March next year, and whoever wins the pitch will become the brand's agency of record, which will be a huge coup for either agency considering MillerCoors spent $160 million on the Lite brand last year.
The agencies will be presenting ideas for ads that the brand plans to debut in March next year, and whoever wins the pitch will become the brand's agency of record
MillerCoors has been an agency in flux since it severed ties with Interpublic's FCB in 2012 after they failed to help the brand recover from a serious sales slump. Saatchi & Saatchi New York handled the account until earlier this year when MillerCoors decided to share the workload between various WPP shops including Ogilvy and Johannes Leonardo. Andy England, chief marketing officer at MillerCoors, said that since leaving Saatchi & Saatchi, it has always been their intention to review the Miller Lite account, but they “Wanted to take the time to make a very thoughtful decision” about what to do next. He also confirmed that all of the brand's digital duties will remain with the Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi.
The most recent Miller Lite commercial, which began airing in May and takes a defiantly retro approach and is based around the brand's classic “It's Miller Time” tag
The three agencies invited to pitch for the account all have existing ties with MillerCoors. TBWA's Integer Group holds the creative keys to Blue Moon and Leo Burnett work on Miller High Life, whilst Royal Order is made up of creatives who have been working on the account since it left Saatchi in April, so could be an early front-runner. There is also a geographical link between Leo Burnett, Royal Order and MillerCoors, as they are all based in Chicago. England says he knows the guys at Leo Burnett “Very well on the promotion side,” and “Somewhat well on the advertising side,” and that he looks forward to seeing what one of their hometown agencies can do to accelerate the brand.
England won't comment on what direction he wants the new creative work to take, but he admits that the retro approach has been effective, and says it will definitely inform their strategy going forward
WPP's young agency might be in a good position to keep their hold on the brand's business, however, as sales of Miller Lite have risen since they began utilising a retro can design and packaging, which harkens back to its heritage as the first mainstream light beer in the US. England won't comment on what direction he wants the new creative work to take, but he admits that the retro approach has been effective, and says it will definitely inform their strategy going forward. The review happens to fall at a time when the brand's most popular brand; Coors Light, is in decline. England is confident, however, that WPP's Cavalry, who currently hold that account, will be able to turn things around. He says they “Understand what ails Coors,” and has “A tight understanding with the team at Cavalry,” who are “Working hard to address the challenges.”
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK. He doesn't drink light beer as a rule, but did accidentally try Miller Lite once and it wasn't the worst beer in the world (that dubious honour belongs to Carling).