Good marketing strategy aims to cause change in behavior favoring the marketer's brand. To do this, a strategic notion needs to arouse interest in the brand being advertised, anchored in some attractive truth about the marketer's product. This will delight loyal customers even as it creates some level of doubt about choosing any competing brand (either named or implied) not blessed with the same product truth. In the end, effective strategy will always be provocative.
Miller Lite's single greatest business challenge now is developing and implementing an effective marketing strategy that addresses all this. Without such a strategy, "exciting new advertising" will soon disappoint. (Bud Light is embarked on just such a case-study.)
So that I can't be accused of just being negative--and to meet all the criteria outlined above--permit me to offer Miller Lite one possible brand strategy. There are certainly others.
An effective strategy for Miller Lite
Here's an interesting fact: Last year, Miller Lite sold very nearly as much beer as every craft brewer in the country put together. Nearly $2 billion worth. But it's not the size of the business that's most noteworthy. What's important is that guys chose to drink Miller Lite roughly 500 million times! With all the craft-beer buzz--to say nothing of two competing options from Big Beer in the form of Bud Light and Coors Light-- millions of guys chose Miller Lite. How come?
And when one of the drinkers in that photo asks, "So, what makes Miller Lite the best?" our marketing guy needs an answer. One that rings true to these loyalists, one that is true to the beer, one that is provocative to drinkers of other light beers. The marketing guy's answer is the brand strategy.
Here's where our Miller Lite marketing guy should simply compliment the loyal customers on their beer choice... and hand out free glasses with the answer printed right on 'em...
What about craft beers? Their drinkers will be provoked, too. But in spite of all their opinionated buzz in social media, and the gaudy business trends of the self-proclaimed artisan brands, Miller Lite should simply ignore them. Beers that cost double what Miller Lite goes for--and admittedly offer even more taste, along with way more calories--are simply not the salient competition. Bud Light is a $6 billion brand. Bringing over, say, 10% of that volume to Miller Lite is where the focus needs to be.
One last bit of advice to our Miller Lite marketing guy: Tell those new agencies to show you their strategy on a bar glass, before they pull out their storyboards.