Ronn TorossianRonn Torossian

When beer brand Miller Lite took to the drawing board to conceptualize a new marketing campaign, those involved began thinking about new ways to connect with consumers. With so much marketing dedicating space to purpose these days, the team knew it needed a purpose to drive its campaign. But it also needed to make a splash, to grab attention. What would the end solution be?

“We know that today’s generation of new drinkers will spend more than five years of their lifetime on social media, and yet are only meeting up with their close friends less than a few times a month,” vice president of Miller Family of Brands Anup Shah said in a recent interview. “With so many young drinkers focused on their phones, we wanted to champion a different kind of social: genuine, face-to-face connections, best enjoyed at a bar over Miller Lite.”

And so, the campaign was born. Instead of going the traditional route and attracting new followers to the brand’s social media platforms, Miller Lite did something daring and different: it asked consumers to put their phones down, unfollow the brand on social media and enjoy some face-to-face time with friends. Preferably over a Miller Lite.

The brand’s Twitter page zeroed out its “following” column and encouraged users to unfollow their brand and instead get out and socialize. The campaign was quite the antithesis to a typical social media campaign, in which the ultimate objective is to attract more traffic to a platform and gain more followers.

Users who unfollow the brand’s pages can receive free beer at participating bars, a hidden benefit of the campaign being it encourages people to patronize their local bars. The influx of business creates a symbiotic partnership with the brand, achieving the end social purpose of encouraging socialization offline.

This campaign is daring, and while it remains to be seen what the long term effects will be, the objective of accomplishing “splash” has been achieved. Should other brands follow suit? This depends, and isn’t an easy answer to find.

What the beer brand wanted to accomplish was to start social conversations, but to start them off the internet. This alignment with a social cause—reducing screen time—is an element of this campaign that other brands should take note of. Consumers, particularly those in younger sets of demographics want to feel a sense of purpose and align themselves with causes that matter to them. For brands looking to accomplish something similar, finding the right purpose or cause can bring other ideas to the table as a result.

Miller Lite went out on a limb with this campaign, and this can be used as an example of how marketing campaigns can be daring and edgy while still accomplishing a positive goal. For other brands, thinking outside the box and finding new ways to connect with end users will be beneficial in the long run.

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Ronn Torossian is CEO of NY based 5WPR, a leading NY digital PR firm.