It looks like Miller Lite lucked into a branding success as its retro look, originally unveiled for a limited time when Anchorman 2 was released, has taken hold.
The three-month promotion has given way to a more permanent stance as Miller announced it will keep the original white design of bygone years and divest itself (at least for now) of the blue cans. It even has a new advertising campaign to spotlight its retro vision.
The reason why Miller Lite is recapturing its past is that the Anchorman 2 promotion worked. Its sales increased after losing more than 1 percent market share over the last decade, slipping to the No. 4 spot among the best selling beers in the U.S.
Miller Lite “lucked” into this because it didn’t plan it this way. The white, retro label was just a marketing ploy, but only turned into something more when sales were suddenly not dropping.
Drinkers saw the new/old brand and recalled the days of Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith making of fun of their macho images in the ads of the late 70s and early 80s. In today’s beer market, in which usage is shrinking (and moving to wine and spirits), anything different stands out.
The real problem rests in the current Miller Lite brand. The reason for the bump is that the retro brand at least meant something, which the current brand does not.
This means the bump will be temporary. Eventually, Miller Lite will need to figure out what makes its brand different and better than the competition. (Which is why Miller Lite started a creative agency review last month.) Once sales inevitably drop again, Miller Lite cannot go back to looking like everybody else and there’s only so many retro looks available.