Why I Loved Miller Lite’s Super Bowl Marketing Campaign: 3 Lessons Worth Stealing
I’m not much of a football fan. Sure, watching top-tier athletes is exciting, but the pace is simply too slow for my enjoyment. I’d much rather watch basketball.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for football, I do have a soft spot for the Super Bowl. In addition to the seemingly bottomless pizza and wings, you’re guaranteed some classic advertising moments.
The 1984-inspired Apple commercial during Super Bowl XVIII has already made it into college textbooks, and we all remember the adorable E-Trade baby from 2008 who defended his ability to buy and sell stocks. The list of Super Bowl greats is as long as the highlight reel from years past.
This year, however, my favorite Super Bowl marketing beat came before the game. While scrolling through Reddit, I saw an intriguing ad from Miller Lite. Although I’m kicking myself now for not screenshotting the ad in question, the basic premise was this: Miller Lite referenced an ad it placed in the New York Times and said that you could get free beer by typing in a ridiculously long URL during Michelob Ultra’s Super Bowl commercial.
Clicking on the ad eventually took you here:
In case you need help reading that, the URL is:
If you’re having trouble reading that, here’s what it says when broken out into actual sentences:
This Miller Lite marketing stunt will distract you from [Michelob] Ultra’s big game ad. Just type in this URL when everyone is watching football and we will give you free Miller Lite, which not only has more taste than Michelob Ultra but also has only one more calorie, and you will actually burn that calorie by typing in this ridiculously long URL, but you will have to type it for real, no cheating by copying and pasting, which is why we are printing this URL in a good, old-fashioned newspaper of the highest integrity, and, yes, we are aware that there’s bound to be some technology that exists that could transcribe a photo back into highlightable text, in which case you could cheat and copy and paste this URL, but we are going to trust you because good relationships are built on trust. So, once again, please type this URL on February 7th because this is a stunt designed to make you miss our competitor’s ad. Burn a calorie and get free beer. It’s Miller Time.
Here’s how Miller Lite explains it via YouTube:
Raising the stakes even further, only the first 5,000 fans who entered the URL were eligible to receive $8 for a Miller Lite six-pack.
Why I Love Miller Lite’s URL Campaign
I’ve already discussed this ad with a few words on LinkedIn, but I wanted to give it some more attention. Here’s what I like about the Miller Lite URL campaign:
1. It’s playful and funny… The entire campaign is goofy by being over the top. The long URL meanders from topic to topic, even going as far as to discuss how great relationships are built on trust—totally unexpected from a beer company.
2. ...but it’s also aggressive. With this campaign, Miller Lite actively pulls attention away from Michelob Ultra during one of the biggest TV spots of the year. The URL is intimidating in length, but it likely had more than a few people diving for their phones when they realized the Michelob Ultra ad was airing.
3. The bones are incredibly simple. A campaign like this has “grassroots” written all over it. Build a silly website. Tell people how it works. Promote it. There’s nothing really complicated about it.
Sure, Miller Lite placed ads in major newspapers like the New York Times, and it also published a press release and the view we linked above.
But all of that can be done for significantly less than paying for a Super Bowl ad (which went for $5,500,000 this year).
4. It’s crazy enough to work. This campaign had viral potential written all over it. Super Bowl Sunday is known for its clever marketing stunts, and this one was whacky enough to receive wide press coverage leading up to the Super Bowl.
The timing here is also important. While it’s unclear whether or not the marketing stunt increased sales before the game, it’s likely that the extra exposure helped to boost sales right before the game as people stocked up on beer.
5. It engages their super fans. While engaging, this ad isn’t for everyone. Your average beer drinker didn’t scurry to type the URL, but people who love beer or Miller Lite were bound to compete. And since the Super Bowl is often a social event, this sort of action was sure to stir up some additional conversation about Miller Lite.
Lessons From Miller Lite’s URL Stunt
Looking at this campaign from 10,000 feet, here are some observations worth keeping in mind for your own marketing efforts:
1. Clever ideas aren’t always expensive (or complicated). While costs will vary wildly from agency to agency and team to team, this entire campaign could easily be completed for a few thousand dollars (though advertising dollars can quickly increase costs, and the company did budget $40,000 in free beer).
2. Tried-and-true media efforts still work. Websites aren’t special. Newspaper ads aren’t special. A Reddit ad isn’t special. But when you create intrigue and humor, each of these vehicles can be extremely effective.
3. It engages the audience. Here’s a campaign that rewards participants with the promise of something free. Instead of simply talking at people, Miller Lite decided to get them involved, further pulling people into its own world.
Marketing is all about connecting with people on a human level. Here, Miller Lite has created a clever, fun way to engage with consumers while gaining additional exposure for its product.