Cannes Lions

MILLER BEER

STARCOM MEDIAVEST GROUP, Chicago / MILLER BRANDS / 2002

Awards:

1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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The basic goal of the “Tough Bowl” sponsorship was to give Miller the opportunity to compete with Budweiser’s substantial Super Bowl advertising for a fraction of the budget. It was important that Miller Lite have a strong presence during the Super Bowl, which is traditionally among the biggest beer-sales weekends of the year - both for overall brand awareness and for the company’s relationships with local distributors. But the company needed to generate that awareness without the luxury of being a part of the actual Super Bowl programming. By leveraging Miller Lite’s status as an official sponsor of the Super Bowl and Starcom’s reputation with the television networks, the team was able to create a four-week partnership with the FX television network promoting the “Tough Bowl,” a special NFL-themed edition of the network’s Toughman program. The partnership culminated in the airing of a two-hour Toughman Super Bowl weekend special, including a 20-minute Super Bowl halftime cut-in. This plan had a basic television focus, backed by simple exposure and merchandising. The television portion ran from January 26 through January 28 and centered around twenty-eight :30 spots that ran throughout the four Toughman telecasts. The plan also contained Miller Lite billboards in all opening and closing breaks, logo placement in 28 promos, and a guaranteed delivery of 27 TRPs.The exposure and merchandising portion of this plan permitted the team to explore less typical methods of placement. For example, during the event itself, the Miller Lite logo was placed in and around the ring, on scorecards and on the scoreboard. Concurrently, the FX Web site featured the Miller Lite logo and a link to the brand’s own Web site. In advance of the event, the network produced and distributed autographed NFL footballs and personalized autographed “Tough Bowl” pictures. In addition, four VIP dinner tickets and 80 general tickets for the event were given away as a promotion.On Game Day, remote controls everywhere got a workout when the “Tough Bowl” cut-in aired. But best of all, the Miller Lite was flowing from taps, kegs, bottles and cans across the U.S. The results speak for themselves: January 2001 on-premise sales increases of 32% vs. 2000 and a 52% over-delivery of “Tough Bowl” broadcasts. The largest sporting event in the U.S., hands down, is the Super Bowl. One game. One day. 86.8 million captured viewers, or so everyone is led to believe.

With Budweiser serving as the event’s sole broadcast sponsor year after year, it has historically been extremely tough for competitors like Miller to make a big play—that is, until Starcom came up with an even TOUGHER game plan that would lure target beer drinkers away from Budweiser.The media team faced two significant hurdles. First, Budweiser had a hefty advertising budget to contend with. But even more daunting, Starcom needed to create an association to the big game without placing a single in-game ad.

Conceived and executed entirely by the Starcom media team, Miller Lite became the first title sponsor of the “Tough Bowl,” a special television event that took place during halftime on a competing network. Featuring former football legends, the “Tough Bowl” successfully motivated viewers to switch channels during halftime to the Miller-branded event.In addition to creating the concept of an “alternative” Super Bowl halftime event, the team worked to leverage Miller’s reputation and associations in order to receive prime spots and coverage for the Tough Bowl - both onsite at the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida and in various media. Miller Lite’s sponsorship of FX’s inaugural “Tough Bowl,” which featured several NFL legends squaring off in the boxing ring, was one of first examples of counter-programming aimed specifically at Super Bowl halftime viewers. It exemplifies how a smart, but simple media idea can achieve big sales and marketing results for the client.Sponsorship of the “Tough Bowl,” designed to counteract Budweiser’s heavy Super Bowl advertising budget, generated a strong Super Bowl-related buzz for Miller Lite without actually exposing the client to the expense of being in the Super Bowl. Held in Tampa, Florida (the site of the 2001 Super Bowl), the “Tough Bowl” event garnered significant on-site awareness, while advertising for (and in) the unique event put the Miller Lite name before a larger, national audience. Plus, Miller’s association with the event was very favorably received by Tampa-area distributors, one of the client’s most important audiences.The results delivered a one-two punch: The event contributed to a 32% increase in on-premise sales in January 2001 vs. the prior year and helped create a 52% over-delivery of “Tough Bowl” broadcasts. In fact, Miller Lite’s “Tough Bowl” became the highest-rated non-movie ever on the FX station.

Execution

The largest sporting event in the U.S., hands down, is the Super Bowl. One game. One day. 86.8 million captured viewers, or so everyone is led to believe.

With Budweiser serving as the event’s sole broadcast sponsor year after year, it has historically been extremely tough for competitors like Miller to make a big play—that is, until Starcom came up with an even TOUGHER game plan that would lure target beer drinkers away from Budweiser.The media team faced two significant hurdles. First, Budweiser had a hefty advertising budget to contend with. But even more daunting, Starcom needed to create an association to the big game without placing a single in-game ad.

Conceived and executed entirely by the Starcom media team, Miller Lite became the first title sponsor of the “Tough Bowl,” a special television event that took place during halftime on a competing network. Featuring former football legends, the “Tough Bowl” successfully motivated viewers to switch channels during halftime to the Miller-branded event.In addition to creating the concept of an “alternative” Super Bowl halftime event, the team worked to leverage Miller’s reputation and associations in order to receive prime spots and coverage for the Tough Bowl - both onsite at the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida and in various media.

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