Global positioning – A beer for all time zones

Beer is the acid test of advertising creativity. Not only are the stakes high, it's also one of the most highly regulated marketing categories. Now multiply that challenge by 62 markets. Christopher Grimston, VP creative, and his team at The Hive Strategic Marketing in Toronto, have been working for the past four years on a global program for Miller Genuine Draft that has run in markets across Europe, parts of Asia/Pacific, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. The Hive began the assignment with a promotion-driven tactical program called The Miller Jet Tour, followed by a global brand advertising campaign a year-and-a-half later, and recently extended it with new creative.

Beer is the acid test of advertising creativity. Not only are the stakes high, it’s also one of the most highly regulated marketing categories. Now multiply that challenge by 62 markets. Christopher Grimston, VP creative, and his team at The Hive Strategic Marketing in Toronto, have been working for the past four years on a global program for Miller Genuine Draft that has run in markets across Europe, parts of Asia/Pacific, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. The Hive began the assignment with a promotion-driven tactical program called The Miller Jet Tour, followed by a global brand advertising campaign a year-and-a-half later, and recently extended it with new creative.

We had been working in the beer business in Canada for some 12 years, and were well acquainted with the variances that exist province to province, so we had a feel for working in a highly regulated environment, be it local or global.

But the real beginning point is still the brief, the strategy and the brand positioning. From there we looked at the target and the

marketplace and tried to figure out how we could deliver conceptually in order to drive the brand’s image in more than 30 countries and 12 languages.

The consumer target for Miller Genuine Draft outside North America was identified as urban upscale legal-aged drinkers. They are professionals who are making their way into the workplace and whose life is still very much about going out. These are people who celebrate the night.

The restrictions we faced were more than regulatory. Budget and production practicalities restricted producing the spots in multiple

languages, so our narrative had to work

without on-camera dialogue.

As we sifted through the research, we learned that, for all the apparent disparities, our target group around the world has more similarities than differences. For the most part, a 21-year-old guy in Moscow has the same things on his mind as a 21-year-old in Toronto.

We created a spot called ‘Time Zones’ that showed young people at urban play in

different cities: New York, Chicago, New Orleans and L.A. Each market could ‘localize’ the spot by inserting a super of their time zone.

For the look, we searched for an idea that would work beyond pure aesthetics. We

chose a look that was black-and-white and lifestyle-focused.

Casting was interesting. Even a situation as seemingly innocuous as showing two females and a male can be an issue.

Showing certain ethnicities mixing together can also be dicey. We worked very closely with our stills photographer Paul Alexander. We had in mind the work that Bruce Weber

had done for Abercrombie & Fitch, which

captured real people in real-life moments.

Our casting specs demanded the talent look great, but approachable. Sensual without being highly sexualized.

We stayed away from positioning men or women as objects.

We shot over 30,000 images in the first year and narrowed it down to just over 20 core shots. It took a lot of work to capture those truly

universal, candid moments we were looking for.

In the new campaign, we wanted to find a stronger hook. So we went back to the product itself. Miller is a cold-filtered, smooth, refreshing drink. We crafted a metaphor around the idea of things that are cold, refreshing and smooth. Without abandoning the good times, we are taking it to a more surreal world where the activities that were common in the original campaign – people partying and enjoying themselves – are now taking place inside bottles of Miller. This allowed the brand to be true to its roots while creating a more striking visual look. All spots were directed by Toronto’s Dale Heslip.

The Miller Jet Tour, which has continued to grow over the past four years, is an extremely important component because it strikes at the heart of what these people like to do.

They want to travel. They want to get on a jet plane.

It also provided those markets where MGD is less developed with a tactical offer as an

alternative to using the brand advertising.

Consistency, and providing parameters that allow a common look and feel with flexibility for local adaptation, all contribute to the glue in this brand. The work now runs in 35

countries and 12 languages.

Christopher Grimston is VP creative of The Hive in Toronto. He can be reached at 416.923.3800.