Thursday, September 8, 2011

Will targeting supporters of veterans sell more beer?

Miller High Life is just wrapping up a summer promotion designed to donate up to $1 million to veterans and their families.  The promotion, which involves the collection of specially marked tabs and bottle caps, ran last year at grocery and convenience chains for easier implementation.  According to the company, brand awareness and sales both increased.

As a result this year the campaign was expanded to reach 30% more people, and moved to bars where experiential marketing could be added to the mix.  (Odell, 2011)
So what do you think?  Will it be successful?  Would you switch beer brands to support Iraqi vets?

Odell, P. (2011, August 22)  Case Study: “Give a Veteran a Piece of the (Miller) High Life”  Retrieved September 7, 2011, from


  1. Bringing the promotion to bars makes capturing the bottle caps and tabs easier. More importantly, it appeals to people's sense of patriotism to say 'Hey, I'll have a Miller High Life beer'. Knowing that a purchased bottle or can could make a differance would be something they could do to support our veterans. Does it convert beer drinkers to Miller High Life beer? I don't know - I guess the sale figures can tell us that. Comments by Susan DiBello

  2. I suspect that there are two major problems leading your advertising with such causes-based marketing.

    First, it seems horribly exploitative, both on the part of the cause and on the part of the consumer. Causes, while wanting as much support as possible, do not exactly want to be in the position of picking sides in the battle. Are we to believe that Miller is supporting the families of our servicemen, while, say, Budweiser isn’t? Similarly, companies should do good things in a way that wasn’t depended on us buying their product.

    Second, “up to $1 million”? That’s it? Second Quarter net income for MillerCoors was $400 million based upon net sales of $2.132 billion, and they’re only going to give “up to $1 million” on additional sales? ("Reuters" ) Seems pretty lame, especially when the company is probably getting a tax write-off on such things. I’m reminded a bit of the current Nike Mag campaign with the shoes from Back To The Future being auctioned on eBay ( Note that only “net proceeds” are going to the Michael J. Fox foundation, not total proceeds. What does “net” mean, apart from making sure Nike doesn’t lose a penny on this? Again, companies making sure that they only give profits to charity, and aren’t sticking their necks out financially. (Especially galling in the case of Nike, when it had $2.1 billion in net income, and $20.9 billion in revenues in fiscal 2011 ["Nikebiz"]).

    Additionally, there seem to be very significant logistical challenges to this. First, they had to print special caps, secondly they had to mail or drop the caps into special boxes, run them to distribution centers, etc. Isn’t this a ton of infrastructure, which costs a lot of money, all of which could just be given directly to the veterans’ families directly? In short, this appears (to my untrained eye), as a solution offered to the problem “How can we sell more beer?” as opposed to “How can we better the world around us?”

    "MillerCoors Increases Second Quarter Profits." Reuters 2 Aug 2011. n. pag. Web. 11 Sep. 2011. .
    "NIKE, Inc. Reports Fiscal 2011 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Results." Nikebiz. Nike, 27 Jun 2011. Web. 11 Sep 2011. .

  3. I think supporting Iraqi Veterans is a very savvy idea. After spending last year in a fraternity at the University of Texas, I experienced firsthand how incredibly important supporting our troops is to southern culture.

    Since a very large percentage of beer drinkers come from the south, positioning Miller High Life as the patriotic beer choice is certainly a convincing way to separate their brand from the competition, and effectively reach the target market.


  4. I think this is a very smart marketing method Miller is using. I can't speak for all Americans, but if I was of legal age and went out for a beer with my whole family and heard what Miller was doing, I can honestly say that we would all chose a Miller over the beer we were going for. Considering there are many vets in my family, we would all easily part from our preferred brands to support the troops.

    Also, after asking a handful of people in my life, I am able to say that from those that I talked to, beer seems to be more appealing to men than to woman. On that note, we can also state that more men have served or are serving in the military than woman. When we link the two, we see that Miller is more likely aiming to reach men who have served or are serving along with those who support such.

  5. While I think this is a savvy marketing strategy on the part of Miller, I do find it to be somewhat exploitive.

    Any perceived association with the military will certainly cast a favorable light on their brand. The pro-active nature of this promotion involving the collection of specially marked bottle caps serves to reinforce the brand name with participants.

    I would prefer a promotion announcing a specific percentage of profits or sales to be donated to the veterans and their families over a pre-determined time frame. This would create awareness and support of the brand in a respectful environment. As previously noted, there was an expense to Miller in creating this promotion. A donation may not have provided marketing insight, but would have a positive Public Relations impact.

  6. As a self proclaimed connoisseur of all types of beer, I don't agree with the notion that beer drinkers will switch to Miller High Life for the specific reason of supporting troops, instead more beer would be purchased by those already loyal to the Miller brand. I also agree with John that Miller has made this more work for the consumer to participate in the promotion.

    In the summer, and more specifically the months leading up to the 4th of July there tends to be more "patriotic" packaging and promotions for "American" beers. Budweiser released American flag cans around the 4th of July, however without any proceeds going to veterans. Why not take it a step further?

    I would like to see an industry wide summer promotion that would be designated by packaging on both bottles and cans sold with proceeds going to veterans and their families. The combined efforts of MillerCoors and InBev(Budweiser) could have a larger impact on all veterans and their families.

    Ben Kirscht