As Coors Light creative account switches hands, bosses blast poor ad performance

Molson Coors

Senior executives at Molson Coors have expressed their unhappiness with the advertising for Coors Light, saying it has focused too much on the "Rocky Mountain lifestyle” and not enough on selling the beer.

Speaking on a third-quarter earnings update, Molson Coors chief executive Mark Hunter said sales over the past year have been disappointing and though steps have been taken to improve the marketing, the “good” creative work has not been good enough.

“The job of our marketing team is to get the dramatization of our positioning compelling and motivating,” he said. “It's not been good enough and we have to fix it.”

Against a challenging market in the ‘light beer’ category, Molson Coors has been trying to bolster both Coors Light and sister brand Miller Lite, setting up separate marketing teams and “substantial” budgets for each.

Hunter said that while Miller Lite has been successfully established as “the original active lifestyle brand” and seen growth as a result, the Coors Light proposition has been too “soft” and not communicated well enough.

The chief executive of the MillerCoors division, Gavin Hattersley, went further on the call with analysts, suggesting that its ads had failed to explain what makes the product worth buying.

“We focused too much on Rocky Mountain lifestyle,” he added. “We're moving quickly to get Coors Light back onto a solid footing. The brand is at its best when it's laser-focused on its messaging and makes it absolutely clear what makes Coors Light different than the competition.”

In the UK, it recently made the abrupt move of its global creative account from VCCP, which had managed it for eight years, into Havas. The was responsible for the series of Jean Claude Van Damme adverts (pictured above) – which show the actor in various snow-capped mountain settings.

Further steps taken to overhaul its ad efforts have seen senior executive who spearheaded the turnaround of Miller Lite be seconded to the Coors Light team, where he will lead the strategy over the coming year.

In the meantime, the advertiser has launched a new digital campaign targeting younger drinkers (21 to 34-year-olds) to increase awareness around the cold-activated packaging, which sees the mountain symbols on its bottles turn blue when they reach the right temperature.

While early days, marginal improvements have been noted.

“We're not waiting till next year [to make changes]. I'm not going to call it victory by any manner or means, but the last two four-week reads on Coors Light has it stabilized,” said Hattersley.

“So, you're going to see a lot of work rolling out. It started a couple of weeks ago and you're going to see it continue through next year where we – where we bring this whole graphic expression to life.”

Molson Coors total marketing investment was down by the low single digits for the quarter, though it will still have invested “well over” $400m into brand building activity over the course of 2018.

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