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Leo Burnett to lead beefed-up Coors Light roster amid MillerCoors' marketing acceleration

MillerCoors chief marketing officer, Michelle St. Jacques, has set out a new “speed over perfection” strategy for the brewer’s brands, starting with an expanded agency roster for Coors Light led by Leo Burnett Chicago.

The Drum first reported Coors Light's disastisfaction with the efficacy of its advertising back in November 2018, which led marketing to open up its US creative account for pitch for the first time in three years.

Former lead agency 72&Sunny declined to repitch.

Now, Leo Burnett Chicago has been appointed to lead on creative and brand strategy for Coors Light, which has spent the bulk of this year embroiled in a back-and-forth with Bud Light over its use of corn syrup.

It’s a new client for the Publicis agency. However the network’s shopper business, Arc, has worked on retail activation across MillerCoors brands for a number of years.

With Leo Burnett Chicago at the helm, MillerLite’s top seller and "number one priority" will also begin working with a “broader set of agencies.” These include fellow Publicis outfit Connect at Publicis Media, DDB, which is MillerLite’s lead agency, and ICF Next.

Meanwhile, Arc remains the retail activation agency for all MillerCoors national brands.

Ryan Reis, vice-president of the Coors family of brands, is encouraging a collaborative, knowledge-sharing culture among the newly rostered agencies.

“This isn’t about which agency is doing what,” he said. “The focus is on giving this brand the best ideas out there to help move it forward.

“We have a two-point trend change from the end of 2018, but that’s not enough. We’re confident we’ve laid the foundation in the right place, but we need to keep building until we have a gleaming skyscraper that a new generation of drinkers wants to move to.”

'Play to win'

This “new generation of drinkers” will be central to the wider MillerCoors business going forward.

St. Jacques has set out her three-pronged strategy for clawing back a bigger share of the global drinks market, where beer is currently at the mercy of wine, spirits and teetotallers.

She is placing focus on recruiting new young (but legal) beer drinkers, building brands that “more people want to hang out with” and being “bolder and faster” with new ideas.

Coors Light’s deeper and more collaborative pool of agency talent feeds into the latter goal of big creative produced at pace – a creative culture that the majority of chief marketers currently covet.

“It’s all about moving with speed over perfection,” St. Jacques said. “It’s about taking smart risks, connecting with consumers, trying new things in marketplace, ... throwing gasoline on what is working and stopping the things that aren’t working. We need to be sprinting, and that’s the way we’re going to continue to win.

“We have to take risks, to play to win, to go for the things that scare us. So, all of our marketing needs to stem from a strong foundation that allows us to work faster, take smarter risks and move at the speed of culture.”

Featured by The Drum

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