A recent AdAge article highlighted the plans Miller Lite announced with a new ad campaign that will soon launch, emphasizing brand authenticity. I like the idea of brand authenticity, and I think it serves all brands well to develop an individual, authentic approach to marketing communications that will resonate with an audience.
The Miller Lite marketing communications approach in this campaign serves as a great case study for a number of elements that compromise the promotion element of the marketing mix. There are applicable elements to brands in many industries, including brands leveraging distributed marketing management style operations in highly regulated environments, such as insurance, financial services and healthcare.
Miller Lite took notice of the competitive landscape in marketing communications. To the Miller Lite brand, a primary competitor is considered Bud Light. One key Bud Light marketing initiative has featured Justin Timberlake promoting Bud Light Platinum, a more upscale version of the Bud Light brand, and one also containing a higher alcohol content by volume. Miller Lite has also taken notice of Coors Light ads in recent years featuring their Cold & Super Cold labels notifying drinkers when the beer is the best temperature to drink. Additionally, Anheuser-Busch brands like Budweiser & Bud Light use born on dates to let drinkers know when the beer is freshest and will taste best. Based on what Miller Lite has forthcoming, it appears that they felt the need for celebrity endorsement as well as emphasizing a packaging differentiator, but they decided to go a different direction with endorsement and their own unique packaging features. The lesson here is that while it is ok to copy a strategic maneuver of a competitor, it is not advisable to do exactly what a competitor is doing. Positioning your brand differently than your identified primary competition is always recommended.
In ads dating back at least a decade, Miller has emphasized “Miller Time”, a concept known as common people having great times with their friends in a relaxed, comfortable environment. An A List celebrity isn’t a part of most people’s social circle, so that would not have been considered strategic alignment. Miller Lite wanted a celebrity that the target demographic could identify with. For this, Miller Lite chose Ken Jeong as a celebrity endorser. Jeong is not an A Lister, but he is recognizable. Jeong is best known for playing gangster Leslie Chow in “The Hangover” series movies, a film series that widely resonates within the 21-34 male demographic, a key demographic for beer brands. Jeong was actually a medical doctor prior to developing a stand up comedy career, and regular people could imagine hanging out with a guy like Jeong. The lesson here is to choose a message that fits the overall brand. Not every shiny idea in marketing makes sense for every brand. Miller Lite could have chosen to get an A List celebrity to endorse the brand, but it wouldn’t have necessarily fit what the brand is trying to accomplish. It is vital to know the essence of your brand and how your essence can be best communicated.
Like any contemporary marketing communications effort, this effort will likely have a multi-channel component. The primary medium for Miller Lite’s ads will be TV. The TV ads will likely be replicated on Miller Lite’s YouTube channel, and Facebook and Twitter pages will likely link to a YouTube video. This is simply a reinforcement of a current practice. Brands realize that they need to be in many places because of the proliferation of online media channels that have gained popularity.
When there’s a complex marketing environment, marketing automation is a feature that comes in handy. However, marketing automation is not something that makes brand messaging robotic. Rather, marketing automation when a brand is emphasizing their unique features in a one of a kind way in the different marketing channels. Automation does provide analytical assessments to enhance marketing campaigns in channels and reduce costs via elimination of marketing inefficiencies.
The best thing for any brand to do from an authenticity standpoint is to take a look at themselves closely. Self examination and knowledge of differentiating components is crucial. I know that it sounds like simple advice, but it is just that important that it should be re-emphasized. A differentiating component makes every brand special, otherwise the brand doesn’t normally have a long lifespan. Knowing the brand essence and how to communicate it most effectively to the target market that will be most receptive is a core component of the marketing process.