Big game, big gains: Miller Lite heads into the Super Bowl with on-premise momentum

Expect fans to pack the bars in Kansas City and Philadelphia when the Chiefs and Eagles meet Feb. 12 in Super Bowl LVII. And when they do, there’s a good chance they’ll be drinking Miller Lite.

Miller Lite, the official beer partner of the Eagles, can thank football fans for helping give it a boost in the on-premise, where it’s steadily grown, according to the most recent scans, while pushing Molson Coors’ on-premise business back into the green.

Miller Lite grew share in the on-premise in the four weeks that ended Nov. 5, 2022, versus the prior year, according to Nielsen CGA data that measured the entire beer category. That helped Molson Coors’ total share of the channel grow nearly half a point, with Miller Lite the company’s top gainer. It was the fifth straight period of on-premise growth for Miller Lite, per Nielsen CGA.

What’s more, through the third quarter of 2022, Miller Lite sold more beer, faster, says James Nanney, senior marketing manager for Miller Lite.

“Miller Lite is flying in the on-premise. Drinkers bought more Miller Lite and bartenders noticed, which is why our placements grew significantly, too, through the third quarter,” he says.

As bars and restaurants prepare for a rush of drinkers keen on watching events such as the Super Bowl, college basketball tournaments and St. Patrick’s Day, Miller Lite is preparing to reap the benefits, says Nanney.

“There’s no doubt about it: Miller Time is back,” he says. “People are back in their favorite bars and restaurants, gathering with their friends. The fact that they’re choosing Miller Lite shows what Miller Time means to people.”

Also factoring into the brand’s success is Miller Lite’s increased efforts to localize its marketing campaigns.

“Miller Lite found a way to resonate with drinkers with its ‘Tastes Like Miller Time’ iconography,” he says. The campaign, which fully kicks into gear this year, linked Miller Lite to local landmarks – like Chicago’s skyline and Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell – to connect with consumers in out-of-home ads and on-premise tools. It also unveiled a suite of updated pro football packaging, featuring its 16 partner teams, including eight that qualified for the playoffs.

The brand’s highly successful marketing campaigns helped, too, including its Christmas Tree Keg Stand and holiday Beernaments. So did an increased presence on the gridiron, where it grew fantasy football partnerships with DraftKings and ESPN.

During the pandemic, brands like Miller Lite won back customers who returned to trusted brands. And data show that many have stuck around, Nanney says.

“The beer math of why you should have Miller Lite on tap is simple. It’s a trusted, on-premise brand; (bartenders) know those kegs are going to keep turning,” he says. “That’s why we’ve seen our sales network be so successful in securing those tap handles.”

Now, as football season winds down, Miller Lite is focused on the Super Bowl, where it’s vying for ad time with Coors Light in the High Stakes Beer Ad, as Molson Coors makes its return to the national airwaves after more than 30 years.

A retail blitz aimed at getting more displays on retail floors is tied to both the ad and DraftKings partnership. Molson Coors is betting that football-themed displays featuring core brands, including Miller Lite, Coors Light, Coors Banquet, Blue Moon Belgian White Belgian-style wheat ale and Vizzy Hard Seltzer, will rally fans to purchase.

“It might be our strongest football program ever,” Nanney says.

This article does not discuss or imply any Q4 or full year 2022 financial results of Molson Coors, which are expected to be separately announced by Molson Coors on February 21, 2023.