Freshness versus Taste

As Anheuser-Busch launched major new initiatives before more than 1,000 A-B distributors gathered in Chicago, Miller was busy unveiling its latest collection of television spots further zeroing in on direct taste comparisons between Miller Lite and Bud Light and between Miller Genuine Draft and Budweiser.

“When it comes down to what really matters to beer drinkers, the message of taste beats the message of ‘freshness’ every time,” said Bob Mikulay, executive vice-president – marketing, Miller Brewing Company. “American consumers realize that all American-brewed beers are fresh.”

The new ads are the latest iteration of Miller’s year-old “Good Call” campaign. In each spot, beer drinkers line up outside an A-B brewery to use a megaphone to inform Budweiser that they chose a Miller beer in a blind taste test, while pointing out that all American-brewed beers are fresh. The spots begin airing during this weekend’s football games.

Last week in Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Miller previewed the new spots to enthusiastic gatherings of its distributor partners. “The reaction of the distributors has been very encouraging,” said Mikulay. “They know the taste proposition resonates with beer drinkers, and they know that A-B distributors do not feel the same way about the freshness concept.”

In Chicago, Anheuser-Busch rolled out their plans to continue supporting freshness with advertising featuring taglines like “Freshness Rules” and “Fresh Beer Tastes Better.”

“You can’t blame them for trying to avoid the direct taste comparison,” said Mikulay.

Mikulay confirmed that Miller would raise its target for on-premise taste challenges to five million consumers by the end of calendar year 2005. Since the beginning of 2004, Miller and its distributor partners have engaged more than one million consumers in such sampling efforts.

“It’s been a very powerful tool really bringing home the important differences between our beers and theirs,” said Mikulay. “In fact, in terms of actually prompting reconsideration, it’s been one of the most effective marketing investments the beer industry has seen in many years.”

Meanwhile, Miller Lite sales momentum continues. According to ACNielsen data, Miller Lite sales are growing faster than Bud Light over the past 52 weeks — Miller Lite gained 1.0 share points compared to Bud Light’s growth of 0.3 share points. Miller Lite share has grown in ACNielsen-tracked supermarkets for 61 consecutive weeks and in ACNielsen-tracked convenience stores for 56 consecutive weeks. Additionally, Miller Lite was the leading share gainer in the beer category in supermarkets during Memorial Day and Independence Day and Labor Day holiday weekends.