NBWA Day One Highlights


Dear Client:

Travis Markstein of Markstein Beverage Co. opened up the general session Monday sharing some final thoughts on his time as chairman of NBWA.

Before assuming the role last year in Vegas, Travis joked that he envisioned a cakewalk. He held vivid dreams of people getting sick of hard liquor, consumers marching up the hill with signs that said "we want beer" and demanding an elimination of federal excise tax.

He paused to let the laughter in the crowd subside and dove right back into his fantasies.

Travis shared visions of big retail taking out national television ads on Super Bowl touting the benefits of the three-tier.

"And in the background of all of this, I saw a presidential election year that made you proud of the process," Travis said, causing more uproarious laughter.

"But like many inventory forecasts," Travis said, "I got it wrong."

Yes, Travis's dreams of a cakewalk were crushed before he was even officially anointed as chairman. The morning he was to assume the role, he woke up to the front page of the WSJ reporting that ABI was indeed going to buy SABMiller. The news caused the proverbial switchboard of the industry to light up, Travis said, and the NBWA began answering calls.

It wasn't an ideal first day for Travis. But no matter, he said, because he held tightly to the three pillars of the NBWA: congregate, communicate and advocate. And in carrying out this three-pronged strategy, Travis was able to help lead the NBWA through the turbulent times.

Travis joked that next year, the NBWA's 80th anniversary year, looks to be a lot quieter. "Your incoming chairman Paul Bertucci (of FEB Distributing in Gulfport, MS) ought to have a walk in the park. Brewers big and small will be patting him on the back, distributors will send him flowers and family beer steins, hell maybe even Costco will give him a free membership," he joked.


You may have heard that Miller Lite's new round of ads goes right for Bud Light's jugular. Norman Adami-style circa 2005.

MillerCoors CMO David Kroll laid out the why at yesterday's NBWA MillerCoors supplier meeting: ABI's targeting young males to the exclusion of others "is a guaranteed formula for decline," he said.

"And yet…Bud Light has intensified its old approach of hiding behind sophomoric humor," he said.

With 'Up for Whatever,' for example, "they hid their beer behind a frat-boy lifestyle." With The Bud Light Party, "they hid behind beer celebs."

'LITE "CHALLENGER" ADS CHALLENGE BUD LIGHT HEAD ON. Enter Miller Lite's new "Challenger" ads set to roll this weekend during NFL. They'll take the biggest light beer head on, from its low-cal/carb credentials to everything else.

"Our point here is simple," said David. "When we heard Bud Light telling drinkers to 'Raise One to Right Now"… we actually found ourselves agreeing," he said.

"But if you're going to raise a light beer to right now, why not raise the right one," he said. "That's essentially what the commercials say."

COORS LIGHT. As for Coors Light, MillerCoors' number two gets new spots, too. They're pushing on with the "Climb On" theme.

Sports will become "a larger cornerstone to our campaign," in 2017 David said. They plan to activate sports with "one" theme: "One Team… One Mountain."

The brand will partner with 40 big name schools like: Texas
Ohio State, USC, Alabama, Oregon and many others.

That's not it. David said they'll also team up with "the" analyst in college football, Kirk Herbstreit, "to put Coors Light at the center of key rivalry games, and the national championship." Looks like all the big guys have their sights set on that college football space.

CHALLENGING ULTRA. But "let me address one of the bigger questions in the room," said David.

"What are [we] doing about Ultra?" he asked rhetorically.

In their eyes, Ultra's success is based on three pillars:

Lower calories and carbs.

Upscale branding "that supports an active lifestyle."

And a less "beery" taste that appeals to a lot of people.

New marketing for both Miller Lite and Coors Light "directly address the first two," said David.

With their calorie and carb "credential" callouts on new Miller Lite ads, for example, "We have drinkers questioning the value of Ultra," said David.

By establishing Coors Light as "a more broadly-appealing lifestyle brand," they are "narrowing the athletic positioning of Ultra."

It all must be working because Ultra is "starting to discount," he said.

Still: "Ultra's trends remain strong."

So next year they'll tackle Ultra head on with Goldwing.

INTRODUCING GOLDWING. "Brewed to just 95 calories and 2.8 carbs, Goldwing is a brand with modern badge value," said David.

The "superior light beer" brand is "designed to be even less beery." It's "a brand that speaks directly to Women and Latinos."

Goldwing is a test in parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Those are what we'd call the big bets.

A few other highlights we found interesting:

ETC: BANQUET. Banquet is coming with its first-ever Spanish-language campaign next year.

MILLER HIGH LIFE. Next year, they "move away from the hipster 'I am Rich' campaign" and return to their "roots."

"Marketing will focus on the quality of the beer, the iconic glass bottle and the unique heritage of the brand," reportedly. They also plan on returning with the famous jingle: "If you've got the time, we've got the beer."

HENRY'S HARD. Expect it to deliver 5 million cases. An estimated 60% of its sales are sourced from spirits.

January will build on that success with Henry's Hard Grape.

AND HENRY'S HARD SPARKLING. And that's not all: as leader of the hard soda segment they're bringing a "superior option" to hard seltzers: Henry's Hard Sparkling. It'll debut with Lemon Lime and Passion fruit options, at 92 calories and 0 grams sugar.

REDD'S has done more than 46 million cases since its intro. How will they reinvent that wheel? By going beyond "apple ale" to become the "leader in fruit beer -- beer plus fruit, it's that simple," said David.

The franchise will get new ads, new flavors, and packaging, starting with Redds Raspberry and Blueberry, to hit next year.

HATTERSLEY OUTRO. MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley closed out the segment.

As he'd mentioned earlier in the day's general session, he reiterated the $10 million market visit from one of his earliest days as CEO.

The point?

"We still have much to do, but we're putting our money where our mouth is," he said, having enumerated their big brand plans, and the handful of significant craft purchases.

"In fact, my first market visit cost us $10 million as it resulted in us moving back to glass for Miller High Life and Mickeys.

"So yes, we are going all in to get to growth. So let me ask you, are you going all in too?"


Anheuser-Busch's VP of communications, Gemma Hart, reached out to BBD to clarify some of the commentary included in yesterday's article regarding the match-and-redirect in Mississippi.

Gemma reiterated that the move "was not an easy decision, but it was the right decision for our business." She went on to say that "Clay Adams and Philip Mullin continue to be valued wholesalers in our network. Since 2012, we approved Adams Beverages' acquisitions of three A-B distributors in Charlotte and Shelby, N.C. and Tuscaloosa, Ala. - which more than tripled their size - and we recently awarded them two wet territory assignments in Alabama."

Gemma then provided answers to questions raised on financing and mobility.

As for financing: "To be clear, Anheuser-Busch is not providing any financing to Mitchell Distributing in this transaction," she wrote.

As for considerations of mobility: "The Mobility software platform is owned and managed by a third-party vendor and Anheuser-Busch has no access to non-AB information," she said.

Of course, there's more than one way to skin a cat. (Lower FOBs, marketing co-op, etc.).


BEER SUMMIT SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES. We will be accepting a limited number of sponsorships for our 2017 Summit at the Hotel Del Coronado in January. For more info on pricing and opportunities, please email rena@beernet.com.

Until tomorrow, Harry

"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform." - Mark Twain

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