The Champagne of Beers goes big for New Year’s celebrations

Miller High Life wants drinkers in Chicago and Milwaukee to make their New Year’s toast this year with the Champagne of Beers.

The brand is taking its nickname to heart this holiday season, moving into limited-release Champagne-sized bottles with wrapped foil tops in two of its core markets.

After testing its 750-milliliter bottle in Chicago last year, Miller High Life this month released a large-format, “special edition collectors bottle” in limited quantities in the Chicago and Milwaukee metro areas, just in time for holiday celebrations.

“It’s a perfect shareable bottle, and we know the holidays are all about sharing beers and fun times with family and friends,” says Taylor Brown, Miller High Life’s brand manager. “This is a way to remind drinkers we truly are the Champagne of Beers.”

Like 12-ounce Miller High Life bottles, the 25.4-ounce bottles are clear, showcasing the straw-colored beer. The top of the limited-release bottles are wrapped in gold foil held tight by a red band proclaiming High Life the Champagne of Beers. The label features the brand’s icon, the Girl in the Moon.

The bottles, which hit retail shelves within the past week, aren’t expected to last long. In their inaugural year in 2017, the Champagne bottles sold out in all accounts within “a few short weeks,” Brown says. “We had (retailers) looking to get more.”

On top of that, 12-packs of Miller High Life 12-ounce bottles caught some of that momentum.  Chicago-area stores that featured High Life displays along with the Champagne-sized bottle outperformed stores that did not by about 30 percent, Brown says.

Based on that success, the brand decided to expand the test this year to Milwaukee, the city where High Life launched on Dec. 30, 1903. If sales are brisk again this year, they will look to roll it out more broadly in 2018, Brown says.

Aside from the large-format bottles in Chicago and Milwaukee, Miller High Life also created a special national display program for November and December in which its 12-packs of 12-ounce bottles were redesigned to create the image of a Champagne tower when stacked, “which leans into the equity of Champagne of Beers.

The program, Brown says “will help us close the year strong.” Year-to-date, High Life sales are up 1.1 percent on a 0.3 rise in volume, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through Nov. 25. “We feel we’ll end the year in a good spot.”