March Madness Ushers In New TV Ads from Major Brewers

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament officially tips off on Thursday, and several major beer manufacturers are already jockeying for fans’ attention.

MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) and D.G. Yuengling are among the beer companies hoping consumers will want to catch a buzz with their products while watching for buzzer beaters this month.

“March Madness” marks the next round of “competitive” ads between MillerCoors and A-B following February’s Super Bowl. MillerCoors today released two new Miller Lite spots that purportedly pick up at the conclusion of A-B’s Bud Light Super Bowl ads, which highlighted its ingredients and the use of corn syrup in competitor offerings Coors Light and Miller Lite.

In the “Aftermath” spot, an actor playing the Bud Knight returns to a tent and bypasses a fully-stocked fridge of Bud Light in favor of Miller Lite. The tagline, “In the real world more taste is what matters” appears on the screen as the actor and members of the production crew crack open cans of Miller Lite.

A second ad titled “Snow” depicts actors portraying peasants who also skip an iced-down tub of Bud Light in favor of Miller Lite.

MillerCoors vice president of communications Adam Collins told Brewbound that both ads will begin airing “in heavy rotation” during Thursday’s first-round men’s basketball games. Digital versions of the ads will also appear online and across the brand’s social media channels.

“With this campaign we’re shifting the narrative back to a message that we know works for Miller Lite,” Collins told Brewbound in an email. “And unlike Bud Light’s campaign, we are showing you can engage in healthy competition without denigrating the category.”

The Miller Lite ads mark the “highest two-week media investment of the year” in the brand, according to the MillerCoors blog.

A-B quickly responded to the Miller Lite ads by releasing a new Bud Light commercial on its social channels today called “Imitation.” In that spot, the Bud Light king suggests that Miller Lite should copy the brand and display an ingredients label on its packaging. The new A-B ad will also be featured during NCAA tournament games.

“In the real world, people want to know what’s in their beer,” Bud Light vice president of marketing Andy Goeler said in a statement. “We hope MillerCoors is also planning to imitate us by adding ingredient labels to their packaging. It’s good for the consumer and the right thing for the beer industry too.”

MillerCoors and A-B aren’t the only companies using the March Madness event as an opportunity to reach drinkers. As Brewbound previously reported, CBA will launch its first national TV ad campaign, promoting a Kona Brewing brand that now accounts for about 63 percent of the company’s total production.

Three 30-second spots for Big Wave Golden Ale — “Little Vacation,” “To-Don’t List” and “Kona Mode — featuring Kona’s “Bruddahs,” David Bell and Blake “Brutus” LaBenz, begin airing March 21. The ads will reappear during Elite Eight games on CBS and TBS, and CBA has purchased more than 600 local and regional time slots during the tournament.

Late March also signals the beginning of the “Make Your Day Golden” campaign for the 190-year-old Yuengling brand. Targeted to active lifestyle consumers, the 15- and 30-second spots for Yuengling’s Golden Pilsner will air across its 22-state footprint.

“My sisters and I wanted to create a refreshing beer that fit our active lifestyles,” chief administrative officer Wendy Yuengling said in a press release. “We worked for 18 months in creating Golden Pilsner as we wanted to bring consumers something new that meets Yuengling standards in terms of a quality, sessionable product.”

Meanwhile, MillerCoors is investing in advertising campaigns for its Saint Archer Gold and Peroni Nastro Azzurro brands in an attempt to capture market share in the super premium and import segments, respectively.

MillerCoors plans to launch the 95-calorie, 2.6-carb Saint Archer Gold in new markets this year as an active lifestyle brand and challenger to A-B’s Michelob Ultra and Constellation Brands’ Corona Premier. MillerCoors, which acquired the San Diego craft brewery in 2015, has released three 30-second spots — “Brewery,” “Guide” and “Beacon” — that depict young people partying at concerts and clubs and skateboarding and bicycling.

As for Peroni, the import label’s first national TV campaign begins March 25 with two commercials — “Umbrella” and “Pool Party.” Those ads will run through early August.

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