Cannes Lions

Taste Matters

DDB CHICAGO / MILLER BRANDS / 2019

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Overview

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Overview

Background

Bud Light does 4% more volume than Coors Light and Miller Lite – numbers 2 and 3 in the category – combined. So, when they attacked us on marketing’s biggest stage – where we legally couldn’t respond - our challenger principals kicked in.

You see, when Bud Light attacked Miller Lite, it was a lot like a fight in the cafeteria. The biggest guy in school hit the smallest guy at the table with a slanderous right-hook in front of everyone.

Conventional beer marketing wisdom would tell this guy to keep his head down, reinforce his claims, and carry on with business as usual. But Miller Lite was done with conventional wisdom and business as usual.

So, when the biggest guy hit us, we hit him back. And the world payed attention. Because a good challenger brand recognizes that increased cultural attention is an opportune time to break the rules.

Idea

Strategically, we knew we needed to bring the conversation back to our strength and, more importantly, what drinkers actually cared about.

So, we coopted Bud Light’s medieval fantasy world to show what happens when those participating are thrust back into the real world.

The Idea? Use their iconic campaign against them to prove that In the Real World, Taste is What Matters.

By filming behind-the-scenes-style actors in “Ye Old Bud Light Fantasy Land” and showing what happens when the ads end, we shined a light on the fact that their Corn Syrup claim was irrelevant to everyday drinkers.

Strategy

We knew that getting into a ‘truth war’ wasn’t a fight we could win, especially if it was just us versus them. The good news? The Internet was rapidly coming to Miller Lite’s defense.

Farmers were furious that Bud Light was attacking corn. Experts were mad that Bud Light was deliberately trying to mislead people with their deceitful claim. Craft brewers came out to state that they proudly used corn syrup in their fermenting process the same way we do.

We didn’t want to play into Bud Light’s hands and get goaded into a fight we couldn’t win, so we decided not to take their attacks head on. We let consumers discover the truth on their own.

DEFENSE STRATEGY:

LET OTHERS DEFEND US INSTEAD OF BEING DEFENSIVE.

The Internet’s defense bought us time to properly interrogate the corn syrup claim…specifically whether or not drinkers even cared. It turns out that in the real world, what they really care about is how it tastes. Taste is the top category driver for purchase intent…and 7 out of 10 drinkers agree that Miller Lite has more taste than Bud Light.

OFFENSE STRATEGY:

PIVOT THE CONVERSATION FROM THEIR STRENGTH (INGREDIENTS) TO OURS, TASTE.

Execution

During the Super Bowl, Bud Light used their fantasy world construct to attack us with a misleading claim: “Miller Lite uses corn syrup.”

We created two films to respond directly to Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercial. In fact, our first film picks up right where their film stopped.

In “Aftermath,” we see the Bud Knight lying on scorched battlefield, which is suddenly, interrupted by a drone operator stepping into frame. The commercial cuts, interrupting Bud Light’s fantasy land. Now, we’re in the real world. We see the Bud Knight walk to craft services and choose a Miller Lite.

The second film opens on two extras locked in a pillory seeming desperate to drink their Bud Light. We hear cut. Again, in the real world, they both walk set and choose Miller Lite.

Super: In the Real World, Taste Is What Matters.

Outcome

The #corntroversy allowed us to punch way above our media weight.

With 475 million impressions, we were able to spread our ‘in the real world, taste is what matters’ POV far more widely than our traditional media spend would allow.

The response from our target audience was overwhelmingly positive, peaking at 86% brand sentiment, with many comments including words like “genius,” “brilliant,” and “hilarious.” The average audience retention rate of the last 5 seconds of both assets is 120%, meaning most people replayed the last 5 seconds more than once. Miller Lite was able to reach their target audience more frequently and effectively in our 24-hour launch period than all of Bud Light’s Super Bowl spots combined.

The #corntroversy resulted in Miller Lite gaining 22,830 cases in volume,while Bud Light lost 214,000 cases. Then, Bud Light stopped talking about corn syrup.

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