More taste, fewer calories, half the carbs.

That’s the central theme of a new series of television ads unveiled this month by Miller Lite that aim to amp up the competitive pressure on its biggest rival, Bud Light.

The spots, which began airing nationwide this month, end on the provocation, “What are you holding?”

Fewer drinkers, it turns out, are choosing to hold Bud Light.

Miller Lite continues to source volume from its largest competitor, gaining 0.5 percentage points of share in the premium lights segment year-to-date through April 7, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience figures. That’s after Miller Lite snapped up 0.6 percentage points of share in the segment in 2017, largely because of Bud Light’s decline.

Miller Lite’s biggest source of shifting gains is Bud Light, according to Nielsen Homescan data for 52 weeks ending Nov. 25. Nearly 20 percent of the volume in beer that shifted into Miller Lite during that period came from Bud Light, making the beer by far the largest source of gains.

That shift came on the heels of a round of competitive ads as well as an on-premise promotional taste-test campaign called Know Your Beer, which pitted Miller Lite and Bud Light against each other in front of some 500,000 drinkers.

“We absolutely love to see we’re sourcing from Bud Light,” says Courtney Bryant, marketing manager for Miller Lite.  “It’s another confirmation of why we feel so confident in using competitive messaging as a key pillar in our overall Miller Lite brand strategy. We’ve known for a long time that we’re the light beer with more taste, and it’s nice to see that more drinkers are recognizing it, too.”

While gaining share against Bud Light is important, she says, “our ambition for this brand is growth.”

Going head-to-head with Bud Light is something Miller Lite will do much more of this year, Bryant says, as it seeks to continue siphoning away volume. That means continuing to hit on the message that Miller Lite has “more taste, fewer calories and half the carbs” of Bud Light, as well as a round of new television spots that hit in June with an even more-pointed message: A majority of drinkers agree, Miller Lite has more taste than Bud Light. The brand plans to continue this line of messaging throughout 2018.

“By asking the simple question of “What are you holding,” it directly provokes beer drinkers to reconsider why they should be proud to hold a Miller Lite,” Bryant says.

 

Miller Lite also has begun airing new complementary product-oriented ads that aim to “invite a little more fun” to the brand. When the brand airs its competitive set of spots alongside its product-centric ads, demand for the beer triples, Bryant says.

Some of the latest beer-centric spots feature a cold can of Miller Lite, while others highlight the social, fun aspects of the beer, Bryant says. They’re also backed with a new soundtrack that aims to connect with today’s drinkers.

While the newest spots feature Miller Lite in its traditional setting, the bar, a new round coming within the next couple of months take the brand outdoors.

“Our ads have been working, and we’re going to continue being consistent” Bryant says. “But we also want to make sure we’re relevant to drinkers and how they engage with the product; Miller Lite is not just their drink of choice in the bar, but also outdoors, at an event like a wedding or outdoor party, or another drinking occasion.”

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