In a move that could be called regressive, but in fact represents a bold shift for a beloved brand, Miller Lite, the 'original' American light (low calorie) beer is taking its customers back to 1975, when the beer first made its impact and kick-started a segment of the market that now accounts for 35% of all US beer sales. They will be doing this by returning their products, packagings and marketing materials to an approximation of their original selves this Autumn (or Fall) in an effort to (according to the press release) “Remind beer drinkers that it is the only brand brewed to be a great tasting beer that just so happens to also be less filling.”
Miller Lite is taking its customers back to 1975 by returning their products, packagings and marketing materials to an approximation of their original selves
Ryan Reis, senior marketing director for Miller Lite, said the original look is being brought back because “It's authentic, proud and highlights what has always been true about Miller Lite since it was first brewed,” namely that it's a “High-quality beer worthy of those moments with friends." Of course, the brand already re-introduced the original lite can back in January. This was initially supposed to be a limited, 2-month run, but the response from consumers was so unequivocally strong that the brand decided to not only keep the can design, but change the bottle design to match it. Reis says that they learned in this period, that the Miller Lite history really meant something to their fans. He is “Immensely proud of what Miller Lite stands for,” and believes the new direction reminds their consumers not only where they've come from, but where they're going as a brand.
Miller Lite – Subliminal
The new direction harks back to the brand's "Everything you wanted in a beer, and less" positioning, with which is won seven medals at the annual Great American Beer Festival and biennial World Beer Cup competitions, including five gold medals. The new/old packaging tells the story of the beer's brewing process, in which hops are added at three distinct times, by including bolder cues of barley and hops, and language that defines the brand's special brewing process. The positioning, which will extend from 12-packs and bottle to draught taps (which will sport “Lite On Tap” neons) and delivery trucks, doesn't neglect the fact that the beer clocks in at only 96 calories, but it doesn't hinge on that fact either, instead focusing on the beer's taste, colour and aroma.
The positioning doesn't neglect the fact that the beer clocks in at only 96 calories, but it doesn't hinge on that fact either
The timeless design will also be visible throughout the brand's numerous sports alliances, which include the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit and Soldier Field in Chicago. Also, Brad Keselowksi, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, will be bringing the vintage Miller look to the racing circuit. This is certainly not the first time a brand has looked to its roots for inspiration, but it might be the first time such an approach has been taken this far. The brand no doubt hopes the new direction can reverse the 7.1% drop in sales in 2013.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK. He is also a beer fan, and finds the idea of 'light' beer almost insulting. But then he is British.