So, what happens when things get this bad?
No wonder it's such a go-to move.
Let's ignore for the moment that Miller Lite has fired agencies so routinely over the years that nobody can remember exactly how many. "Dozens" is a good estimate. Let's ignore the fact that every single Miller Lite ad that ever made it to TV was approved, and probably enthusiastically championed by Miller's marketing honchos. And let's also ignore the fact that however many Miller Lite agencies have been terminated, most of the top marketing executives (who hired one agency after another) somehow managed to avoid getting shown the door.
Wait a second. Let's not ignore any of that.
Marketing leaders are the ones responsible for setting strategy, for deciding how brands will grow. Out of smart strategy crafted by these heavyweights, and on the strength of clever, brand-appropriate, intriguing ideas, effective marketing grows business. But among Big Beer's brands right now, such ideas are few and far between, and strategies hard to divine. How exactly is Bud Light trying to gain share, and from whom? Is Coors Light really distinctive? Is "Our can used to look like this" an effective growth strategy for Miller Lite?
So, what's a marketing leader to do? Three things: First: Decide on a direction that can cause competitors to lose the volume you want to gain, and embrace it. Second: Challenge the ad-agency creative resources to deliver ideas that'll best explode that strategy. Third: Accept nothing less.
Along these lines, just a few thought-stimulators for Big Beer:
Gain volume by shaking confidence in trendy beers: What's the average shelf age of slow-moving craft brands? How many calories in the average craft beer? Ideas?
Grow at the expense of our direct competitors: What could we say about our brand of light beer that would cause some number of drinkers of other light beers to want to give ours a try? Ideas?
Elevate the perception of our quality versus competitors: Can we identify unappealing ingredients or compromised processes at other breweries? What do we do that no one else does? Ideas?
Deciding to tackle such strategic angles requires real leadership from the very top of the marketing organization. It's not work for the faint of heart. It shouldn't be a job for people who dodge responsibility. Leaders gotta lead.
But I can almost hear the executive-suite response: "Woah. Wouldn't it be easier just to fire the ad agency?"