Miller Lite offers Super Bowl fans calorie-burning distraction in shot across Michelob’s bow

Dive Brief:

  • Miller Lite, a Molson Coors brand, is sparring with AB InBev’s Michelob Ultra through a typing challenge intended to distract from its rival’s in-game Super Bowl ad, according to a news release.
  • The beer marketed by Molson Coors noted that there is just a one calorie difference between Miller Lite’s 96 calories and Michelob Ultra’s 95 calories, so it devised a 836-character URL meant to burn off that single calorie. Miller Lite is sharing the URL across print ads, digital spots, social media and on podcasts, but only releasing the text as a media image so that it can’t be copied and pasted.
  • Miller Lite is pushing viewers to complete the lengthy URL during Michelob’s Super Bowl commercial on Feb. 7 for the chance to score $8 via Venmo, enough to buy a six-pack of the brew. With Molson Coors shut out of advertising during the game, the marketer is trying to hack the occasion and divert attention away from its chief competitor.

Dive Insight:

Miller Lite is taking a shot across Michelob’s bow, looking to steal attention away from the low-calorie competitor’s pricey Super Bowl spot. AB InBev has an exclusivity pact with the NFL that bars other beer marketers from running commercials during the big game, but a calorie-burning challenge could be an appealing distraction given the shortage of watch parties amid the pandemic.

Parent Molson Coors is also tapping into an uptick in second-screen viewing, where viewers stay glued to social media and other digital channels while watching TV content. The activity is expected to see a boost around Super Bowl LV as people seek outlets to discuss the game and its commercials in the absence of face-to-face conversations.

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Developed with agencies DDB Chicago and San Francisco, the “Ridiculously Long Calorie-Burning URL” campaign leverages a mix of traditional media and newer content formats, including podcasts, to spread its message. Print ads started appearing today in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miller Lite and Michelob Ultra’s respective hometown rags. The brand also ran a full-page ad in today’s New York Times.

The URL itself is tongue-in-cheek, kicking off with before running on for several hundred more characters. The effort at the same time draws on Miller Lite’s heritage as the first light beer introduced to U.S. consumers back in 1975.

A long-standing rivalry between AB InBev and Molson Coors has grown more acrimonious in recent years, with the Super Bowl a key battleground. In 2019, AB InBev’s Bud Light label ran several ads criticizing Molson Coors brands for using corn syrup as an ingredient. The campaign led to a lawsuit where Molson Coors alleged Bud Light’s marketing was misleading. Michelob Ultra has experienced strong interest in recent years as consumers seek better-for-you beers — it now outpaces Budweiser on the sales front — which could put greater pressure on Miller Lite.

Molson Coors might smell an opportunity to make a bigger splash around Super Bowl LV given the unusual circumstances of the pandemic. Budweiser, one of AB InBev’s flagship brands, is not running a commercial for the first time in 37 years, instead directing its media investments to a vaccine awareness campaign. AB InBev is still airing four minutes of commercials for other labels, with Michelob Ultra’s 60-second spot “Happy” featuring a cast of a celebrities including Peyton Manning and Serena Williams.

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Like sister brand Miller Lite, Coors Light and Coors Seltzer are taking an unusual marketing approach to the big game this year. Molson Coors worked with sleep science experts to develop a film and accompanying audio track that are supposed to trigger dreams about those products.

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