ICF NEXT, Chicago / MILLER BRANDS / 2022
Founded in 1906, Miller High Life has long been known as the "Champagne of Beers." The nickname was initially inspired by the brand's effervescent bubbles and ornate packaging, but over a century it has come to symbolize celebrating life's simple pleasures and "Champagne moments."
The holidays are, of course, a natural time for "Champagne moments" with friends and family, so this project had a straightforward brief: "Celebrate the holiday season's Champagne moments with "the Champagne of Beers."
The objectives were built around making the brand's younger "growth target" (drinkers aged 25-34) understand why High Life is the "Champagne of Beers" through a relevant and newsworthy activation.
In 2021, amidst a global pandemic, celebrating in the dive bars Miller High Life is synonymous with wasn't so simple. So we created a new way to bring the celebration into people's homes, with a sudsy spin on the classic holiday tradition of gingerbread-house building.
We created, manufactured and sold Gingerbread Dive Bar kits.
These gingerbread creations were less "North Pole" and more "Milwaukee," with delicious dive-bar details including ...
Premium gingerbread walls infused with High Life;
Vintage Miller High Life wall art miniaturized and made from sugar, including a customizable entrance sign;
A tiny select-o-matic jukebox rocking for the gingerbread "regulars";
An edible pool table under dim (working) lighting;
A pergola with candy-cornhole boards; and
Maple syrup sticky floors.
The kits brought everything people loved about their humble corner bar into a fun holiday pastime, creating a new at-home "Champagne moment."
As a long-established brand, Miller High Life's core drinkers are older (35-55) and highly loyal. They are well versed in the brand's history and "Champagne" charms. High Life's growth, however, depends on connecting with a younger cohort (25-34) that is less familiar with what the brand stands for. It may have heard the "Champagne of Beers" nickname but likely doesn't really understand what that means.
High Life's approach to connecting with this audience is through culturally relevant brand acts that meet these younger consumers where they are and show them what "Champagne of Beers" really means. This meant doing something that is newsworthy to the younger-skewing media outlets this group reads and watches.
We revealed the kits to a wide range of influencers, brand fans and journalists on November 30, a week before putting them on sale in the brand's online store. Each kit cost $50.
We revealed the kits to a wide range of influencers, brand fans and media outlets on November 30, a week before putting them on sale in the brand's online store. Each kit cost $50.
The pictures and details ignited a media frenzy, with top-tier, target-right media such as Thrillist, BroBible, Men's Journal, Food + Wine, Food Network and USA Today quickly posting positive stories. The news also made it into national broadcast outlets, including being featured on James Corden's "Late Late Show" and on National Public Radio's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me." And more than 230 local broadcast outlets carried the story, too.
In total, there were nearly 1,000 earned placements.
All that buzz drove an almost instant sellout, with more than 15,000 people registering to purchase kits, so we engaged a pair of paid influencers to facilitate giveaways to their followers to keep the conversation going.
As Men's Journal put it: "When gingerbread houses were first built in 16th-century Germany ... little did the makers of these elaborate houses know that the pinnacle of their craft would arrive 500 years later, from a Wisconsin brewer."
When the kits finally went on sale a week after the unveil, more than 15,000 people registered to buy them, and they sold out in two minutes.
That frenzied buying was the result of 992 earned placements and nearly 1.8 billion earned impressions. 100% of coverage was neutral or positive in tone, and 99% of stories contained Gingerbread Dive Bar visuals and the brand's priority messages.
That coverage drove a large social conversation, with 241 organic posts and an additional 120 million impressions.
It was the largest earned reach of any High Life campaign to date, an achievement made more notable by the campaign's modest budget. The campaign's total CPM: $0.10.