US Brewers Engage in War of the Words

20 June 2005

US brewer Miller has launched the next phase of its aggressive advertising assault on arch-rival Anheuser-Busch.

TV commercials, aired during the weekend's sports broadcasts, were targeted at drinkers of Anheuser's best-selling Bud Light brand, showing them startled to find the alternative, Miller Lite, is more to their taste.

Miller, the US arm of London-headquartered global brewing giant SABMiller, began the taste strategy for its brands last year. The campaign has steadily increased the company's market share of the US domestic market to around 18%, after years of decline.

Anheuser, which has around 50% market share, has defended its supremacy by price discounting.

Says Charlie Frenette, interim marketing head at Miller: "Bud Light is a massive brand that is becoming increasingly vulnerable to consumer reconsideration and we'll continue to make the comparative argument for Miller Lite completely explicit."

Ripostes Anheuser's vp of sales and marketing, Mike Owens: "It's unfortunate that SABMiller must resort back to negative attack advertising, which shows their brands can't attract consumers on their own merit."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff