Molson Coors - formerly MillerCoors - is the #2 brewer in the US behind Anheuser-Busch InBev. It was formed in 2008 from a merger of the local operations of what were previously the local #2 and #3 beer companies. It is now wholly owned by Molson Coors, and finally dropped the MillerCoors name in favour of Molson Coors USA at the beginning of 2020. As its old name suggested, its two key brand families are Miller and Coors, the main homegrown challengers to the Budweiser family for the title of America's favourite brew. There is no love lost between the two companies, who have a long tradition of badmouthing one another in their advertising. The latest of many such arguments erupted in 2019 when the bigger company used one of its several Super Bowl ads to accuse MC of using corn syrup in its brewing process. MC responded with its own negative advertising and finally a lawsuit. Coors Light is now the #2 best-seller in the US, roughly half the size of Bud Light by volumes. Miller Lite ranks #4, while Keystone Light and Miller High Life sit just outside the Top Ten. Other products include a variety of craft beers (led by Blue Moon, Leinenkugel, Henry Weinhard's and others), flavoured ales and malt beverages (Redd's, Henry's, Sparks) and imports such as Foster's, Peroni, Urquell, Grolsch and Aguila from Colombia. The company entered the Mexican beer sector in 2018 with acquisition of US rights to Sol from Heineken, and also handles brewing, bottling and distribution under contract for smaller US rival Pabst. In 2020, it also formed a joint venture with craft brewer Yuengling to expand that company's distribution into the western US, and dabbles in a broad range of "beyond beer" drinks including hard selzers, canned coffee, enriched water and other non-alcoholic drinks. Until recently MillerCoors was a joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller, who continued to operate separately from one another in all other markets. Differences of strategy between the pair led to occasional tensions over the development of their US joint venture, and friction was exacerbated by the steady decline in MillerCoors' volumes sales since the merger took place. Any such tensions were resolved towards the end of 2015, when SABMiller accepted a takeover bid from rival AB InBev. To secure regulatory approval, it agreed to sell its shares in MillerCoors to its partner for $12bn. That deal completed in Oct 2016. Gavin Hattersley was CEO of MillerCoors, and became global CEO of parent Molson Coors in Sept 2019. Pete Coors is non-executive chairman. The US beer market remains intensely competitive. MillerCoors' volumes slipped to 45.9m barrels in 2019. Net US revenues were flat at $7.2bn, with pretax income of $1.3bn. MillerCoors has around 23% share of the US beer market to AB InBev's 42%.
Capsule checked 26th January 2021
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Historical profile information for MillerCoors
Adbrands Daily Update 1st Sep 2020: "What A Beautiful Day". DDB Chicago tightens its grip on the Molson Coors US portfolio with this entertaining new campaign for Coors Light, which spins off from a funny idea for a competition. You might want to watch the ad before you continue reading so we don't spoil the gag... but - spoiler alert! - Coors is offering five US customers the chance to "win a trip to the videochat background you've been staring at for months". All you have to do is upload a picture of yourself in front of your virtual background. The winners will be picked at random apparently. Cue a mad rush to download photos of multiple exotic locations around the globe. The only catch if you win is that you have to wait for the pandemic to end but you have until June 2022 to redeem your prize if you're picked.
Adbrands Daily Update 4th May 2020: The ill-tempered war of words between Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors is back on. An appeals court overturned an earlier judgement in favour of Molson Coors, who had sued their arch-rival for "false and misleading" allegations in advertising for Bud Light that other beers were made using corn syrup. That's fair game, said the appeals court: "If Molson Coors does not like the sneering tone of Anheuser-Busch's ads, it can mock Bud Light in return," it ruled. "Litigation should not be a substitute for competition in the market." Molson Coors does use corn syrup during the fermentation process for its Coors Light and Miller Lite beers, but there is none in the end product. Several other Molson Coors products use no corn syrup at any stage of the manufacturing process, such as Blue Moon and Urquell; while several AB InBev beers, such as Natural Light, Busch Light and Rolling Rock, do use corn syrup.
Adbrands Daily Update 29th Apr 2020: "America #CouldUseABeer". In all future industry awards schemes, there should be a new category for Best Campaign Under Lockdown (and, FYI, our friends at The Cresta Awards have already launched one!). The majority of new ads created over the past four weeks have been pretty routine; with a big emphasis - understandably - on emotion and sentiment. However, a new breed is now emerging that rediscover the innate sense of humour that has been largely missing recently. We were quietly impressed, for example, by Diageo's ingenuity with a new celebrity-stuffed US campaign for Smirnoff. The ads were conceived and shot pre-lockdown, so have had to be re-edited with new voiceovers from Megan Rapinoe, Dave Bautista and others to convey a completely new message of 'Hang Out Fom Home'. But pick of the light-hearted lockdown campaigns comes from DDB Chicago, tightening its grip on the Molson Coors portfolio, to deliver this refreshingly honest spot for Coors Light, voiced by the inimitable Paul Giamatti. Yes, Paul, America Could Use A Beer. So could we all! Cheers!
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Oct 2019: "Followers". American advertisers have really got it in for social media this week. Hot on the heels of Goodby Silverstein's "Get Real" HP ad comes this splendid satire from DDB Chicago for Miller Lite, amplifying the push back against the fakery and fawning of social media. Your local bar or pub: that's the original social medium. Do they really mean it, though? Probably not. Inevitably, millions more people will see this spot on - yes! - social media than they will on network TV (if this 90-second spot even airs there more than once or twice). It's the nature of the beast that social media has come to be the devil we love to hate even as we remain in its vice-like grip. Still, the ad is great, and it's a fine sentiment: "A few friends are better than a few thousand followers." So says Miller Lite, with their 230,800 Twitter followers.
Adbrands Daily Update 21st Oct 2019: The increasingly rancorous war of words between AB InBev and Miller Coors took a new turn for the worse this month. There has never been much love lost between America's two biggest brewers, who have made a habit of needling one another for years. Yet new depths were plumbed at the start of 2019 when ABI used a Bud Light Super Bowl ad to accuse its rival of using corn syrup - worse still, high-fructose corn syrup - in its beers, suggesting that the product was cheaply made and inauthentic, a claim Miller Coors denied. Several further ads followed. At first, Miller Coors tried to laugh those accusations off, offering free beers in some bars every time ABI repeated the accusation in its ads. Eventually, though, the company lost patience and initiated a lawsuit, resulting in an injunction against further such claims by ABI. In the latest development, however, ABI has accused Miller Coors of stealing its secret beer recipes. It claims an ABI employee was persuaded to hand over secret recipes for Bud Light and Michelob Ultra that described their brewing methods, as well as the barley and hop blends used and the volume and relative weight of ingredients.
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