Lite beer was first introduced by Miller in the mid- 1970’s. It was not the first attempt to market a light beer – Gablinger had tried to market a similar product in the late ‘60s with little success. Customers found this Gablinger light beer to be a watered down, worse version of normal beer, which for all practical purposes, it was.
So why was it that Miller was able to market this product successfully? Unlike Gablinger, who had marketed their light beer as a diet beer, Miller took a more creative route. Miller Lite was marketed as a beer that tasted great but had fewer calories than regular beer. The kicker: with fewer calories one could drink more beer without getting filled up, thus allowing people to get more drunk. This campaign was created by Backer Spielvogel with the intention of attracting 18-34 year old males with blue collar jobs. Athletes were often used in these ads. Sales were great, but the lite beer attracted more moderate drinking 25-44 year old professionals. Miller faced a dilemma: to stick with the well known advertisements that were already working, or attempt to focus the ads towards the demographic that was buying the beer. Miller chose to stick with their ads, but chose to put in some older athletes who were known to be quick thinkers to appeal to the older audience.
Other companies soon arrived on the light-beer scene. Anheuser-Busch (who happened to have the largest market share at the time) responded at first with brands such as Natural Light and Michelob Light. These brands did not manage to gain the same type of success as the normal Budweiser brand. Anheuser-Busch responded to this by releasing Budweiser Light, hoping to gain a jump start due to the success of the Budweiser brand. They aired their ads during sporting events and had impressive results.
– Eli R.