Why MillerCoors Is Testing Branded Content With 26 Different Tech Companies

MillerCoors is taking its ambitious branded content initiative to the next level—this time by testing campaigns with 26 different technology companies, each one chosen for its ability to address a different pain point for the beer conglomerate.

“The way we’re thinking about technology is one foot in today and one foot in tomorrow,” says Stevie Benjamin, the senior director of digital and media at MillerCoors. “We’re taking some risks. We have an incubator fund, and the way we’ve structured our incubator is we’ve identified a list of statements of business problems that read ‘I wish I could,’ and then found partners to conduct 26 different tests.”

Since this summer, MillerCoors has tested iBeacon technology with an unnamed media company, and other technology programs with Hooters and the Chicago White Sox. Benjamin first revealed the program at Advertising Week.

Earlier this year, MillerCoors announced content partnerships with seven different media companies in order to sell specific MillerCoors beer brands to distinct segments of millennial males. So far, Benjamin says, it’s working, citing its CoorsLight AXIS program with Complex Media, which gives behind-the-scenes looks at how hip-hop artists like Curren$y developed their skills.

These 26 technology tests, Benjamin explains, will be targeted at consumers lower in the funnel and closer to the point of purchase, a task large beer brands usually delegate to distributors and retailers.

However, as competition for the loyalty of younger consumers heats up, MillerCoors is increasingly doubling down on using content to build long-lasting relationships. Benjamin mentions that only 25 percent of volume beer sales comes from adults 21–34.

“People think that age range is the bread and butter for beer companies, but it’s not,” says Benjamin. “If you think about that stat, it’s really competitive to win with this consumer and it becomes all about relevancy.”

MillerCoors is trying to win this battle with a smart combination of content and technology. iBeacon, for example, would allow MillerCoors to ping consumers on their smartphones when they’re in range of a large event or limited-time deal at a bar, restaurant, or beer retailer. In this manner, MillerCoors is attempting to become hyperlocal, serving up relative content to consumers close to the point of sale.

“For us there’s a huge opportunity there—there’s a huge element of personal on mobile,” says Ron Amran, senior media director at Heineken. “We put that lens on it and found a specific passion point for our target consumer. Within three months, we went from zero awareness in that part of the U.S. to 23 percent awareness.”

Amran attributed the results mostly to the content, which was contextual and personalized. “Using the right media type in front of the right person at the right time when they’re most receptive to it was—to be honest—the more magical part of it,” says Amran. “We’re on the brand building side. Context is extremely important for us—especially with responsibility and alcohol.”

MillerCoors isn’t the only one getting into the mobile engagement game. For instance, Heineken is conducting mobile tests for a new Tequila-infused beer brand called Desperados in the southeastern U.S.

But now that MillerCoors has a breadth of content across different media partnerships, it’ll be easier for the company to be strategic about its content placement, especially if it’s able to reach consumers through mobile.

“With content, you need to know what you’re going to achieve,” says Benjamin. “Content isn’t a quick sale. Sometimes it’s about a relationship with the audience.”

Image by Coors Light

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