Miller Lite continues to amp up the competitive pressure on Bud Light, this time with a series of billboards, bus wraps and in-store advertising in its rival’s hometown.
Using the message: “7 out of 10 in STL agree, more taste than Bud Light” aside a large can of Miller Lite, billboards are each near downtown St. Louis, not far from Busch Stadium, the baseball stadium named after Bud Light-maker Anheuser-Busch.
The ads piggyback on the brand’s 2017 “In Bud’s Backyard” video launch that highlighted results from a series of promotional blind taste tests conducted in bars in St. Louis. Those tests were part of Miller Lite’s national Know Your Beer promotional campaign, in which nearly a half million legal-drinking-age adults evaluated beer on color, aroma and taste. In the end, participants are asked to choose between Miller Lite and Bud Light, the top-selling beer in the country.
The aim of the campaign is to strip away the preconceptions of the labels and put the two beers head-to-head in front of beer drinkers to determine how they perceive the beer itself.
More than seven out of 10 participants chose Miller Lite over Bud Light nationwide. In St. Louis, the numbers were even more striking: 76 percent of roughly 360 taste testers chose Miller Lite.
“Around the corner from Busch Stadium, a few blocks from the Budweiser brewery, we put our beer’s taste to the test. And the results may have surprised some people, but they definitely didn’t surprise us,” says Sheila Rhodes, a MillerCoors field marketing manager for the central region.
The fact that three quarters of drinkers chose Miller Lite “leads me to believe that if we continue to push on this, we’re going to be able to convert some drinkers,” says Matt Dykstra, MillerCoors general manager for Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.
“The thing with St. Louis is for a good portion of folks, Bud Light is and always has been their default beer. A majority have never really given Miller Lite consideration out of pure loyalty for the brewery in St. Louis,” he says. “What we’re doing with this program is challenging that notion and letting drinkers know that another big player — Miller Lite — deserves their consideration.”
On top of that, he says, healthy competition between two heavyweights helps drive interest and conversations about beer. “We’re not saying Bud Light is (a bad) beer, we’re saying, ‘hey, there’s this big brand in St. Louis called Bud Light and a lot of people drink it. It’s part of the day-to-day routine here. It just so happens there’s another awesome beer available here called Miller Lite, and when we did a taste test, seven out of 10 people prefer it.”
Video footage from the tests, which were conducted by promotional staff wearing non-branded clothing, were the centerpiece of a national digital and social media campaign that received heavy promotion in St. Louis.
The goal of the campaign is to convince Bud Light drinkers to reconsider Miller Lite, which the brand team says has more taste, color and aroma, yet fewer calories than its biggest competitor.
Although total beer industry volume fell in St. Louis last year, Miller Lite gained 1 percent share of the market in St. Louis in the 12-month period ending in February, according to Beer Institute data. Still, despite falling sales, Bud Light is by far the nation’s top-selling beer, accounting for 17.5 percent of all beer sold in America, according to Nielsen.
St. Louis is the first market where Miller Lite will use the claim; the brand also plans to roll out similar competitive ads in other cities this year, says Courtney Bryant, marketing manager for Miller Lite.