Miller Battles A-B at Wrigley Field

Miller Brewing Co. has realized a long-held dream of establishing a major advertising beachhead at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, upping its competitive stance against archrival Anheuser-Busch. Miller’s media buying arm, Chicago-based Starcom Worldwide, has helped the brewery to secure a prominent and flashy rooftop billboard atop a house overlooking right field. The billboard is highly visible both to fans in the stadium and to television cameras when they pan in that direction. The high-profile placement of the Miller board mirrors that of a static roof sign Budweiser has had for more than a decade, atop another building overlooking left field. The new billboard represents a coup of sorts for Miller, whose products cannot be sold inside Wrigley, which allows only Anheuser-Busch brands and Old Style to be sold in the stadium. They may not be available in the park itself, but Miller products, especially Miller Lite, reportedly are big sellers at bars ringing the ballpark, many of which display banners showing the same message visible on Miller’s rooftop billboard. Illinois, along with Wisconsin, are considered Miller’s prime marketing turf.

With its ability to offer up new messages appropriate to the time of year or the games being played, Miller’s right-field billboard was designed to appeal to a young male demographic. Starcom’s deal with billboard owner Greg Ozog allows the Miller message to change three times a month. For the Chicago Cubs series against the New York Yankees, the sign read, “$160 million could buy a lot of beer,” a reference to the Yankees’ payroll and a fact only hardcore baseball fans would likely know. Just before the Fourth of July, the billboard displayed: “Here’s to the red, white & brew.”