Miller Lite goes after Michelob Ultra’s fitness-themed marketing

Jean J. Sanders

The new campaign attempts to skewer Ultra’s very successful, and long-running, association with sports that of late has included ads starring top-notch athletes including tennis great Serena Williams and NBA star Jimmy Butler. 

Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Ultra finished 2021 as the nation’s third-largest beer as shipments grew 9.5%, while Lite came in fourth after 3.2% growth, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights.

Lite’s new campaign feeds into Molson Coors’ strategy of keeping its Miller brands solely focused on beer, as other big names in beer sell line extensions that include products such as hard seltzers, as is the case for both Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. 

Molson Coors last year dramatized Miller’s-beer only approach with a video for Miller Genuine Draft that showed it “launching” a seltzer—by strapping competitive brands onto a rocket and hurling it into oblivion.

“There is crazy fragmentation we have seen from light beer brands,” Hitch said. “Miller Lite is going to always stick to what we do best, which is beer.”

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The new campaign includes a TV buy during tonight’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game on TBS, as well as investments in podcasts, radio, PR and influencers. “We are going really really big with this camping to make sure a lot of people see it,” Hitch said.

There is also a stunt: Lite will promote limited-edition “beer drops” that the brand describes as a “liquid taste enhancer that adds more beer taste to other light beers.”

The drops will be available for purchase for $4.07 at a special website until supplies last. The stunt is timed with National Beer Day on April 7, which marks the passage of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which Congress approved in 1933 allowing for so-called 3.2% beer sales during Prohibition (essentially ending Prohibition early for beer).

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