Miller Lite-Why Restages Sometimes Fail-Part 3


Lite Beer–Restaging the Brand’s Message

Consider the story of Miller Lite, a brand that has gone through countless restages through the Brand’s history.  Launched nationally in 1975 as Lite Beer from Miller, the Brand attempted to neutralize the connotations of a light beer by aligning the Lite Beer with former sports celebrities.  These personalities would then debate the reason for drinking Lite Beer, revolving around taste versus not filling one up.  Thus emerged the famous fighting words championed by these celebrities, “Great Taste” and “Less Filling”.

 Eventually as sales begin to slow from its former meteoric growth, Miller management felt the campaign might be getting tired, and began to move away from what built Lite Beer from Miller.  Followed thus were a series of campaigns where it was difficult to determine the common thread dating back to the Brand’s inception.  Some appeared to be more aspirational in terms of their content, others showcasing how the Brand can serve as a way of making friends, and still others spoofing Hollywood movies.  Over time, the messages of “Great Taste” and “Less Filling” became less prominent, as seen by the Brand’s 2013 tagline, “It’s Not Just a Good Time, It’s Miller Time”.

 As the marketing campaign evolved, so did the branding strategy.  From what started out as “Lite Beer from Miller”, as recently as last year was referred to as “Miller Lite”.  Indeed in recent spots featuring Ken Jeong–when offering Miller Lite to his crew–he simply shouts out “It’s Miller Time”.  Not surprising the packaging has likewise undergone major changes for Miller Lite.  From primarily a white package that did not even include a Miller logo on the front, Miller Lite evolved to a dominant blue color with a prominent inclusion of a Miller logo.

While maybe there still is time for Miller Lite to get it right as indicated by the Brand’s recent switch back to almost the original Lite beer package, a new commercial entitled “6 Pack” makes one wonder.  Indeed instead of reverting back to the positioning that made Lite Beer a phenomenal success, management has chosen to emphasize the caloric content of the Brand, indicating that it “may be the best way to get a 6 pack”.  Needless to say, this is a dramatic departure from a Brand born by tasting great and being less filling.

Miller Lite Original Can


In next week’s blog, we’ll speak about some of the steps that marketers might wish to consider when attempting to achieve a successful brand restage.

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