Miller Lite taps DraftFCB for $100 million account

Any substantial, new advertising account that lands in Chicago these days is a reason for rejoicing and DraftFCB’s winning MillerCoors’ Miller Lite was reason to break out the, well, Miller Lite and celebrate.

Its reported billings of more than $100 million are a good start in making up for the heavy hits the Chicago ad business has taken in the past three years.

The MillerCoors’ account moved over after two years at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York. BBH and DraftFCB had been competing for assignments on the brand since late last year.

Caught in the change, however, was Y&R Chicago which had been the agency for Miller Genuine Draft and MGD 64’s since the early ?90s. Saatchi & Saatchi’s Chicago office will now handle those brands.

DraftFCB, which has had the Coors business for decades, may be the only U.S. agency handling two competing brands ? Miller Lite and Coors Light.

Coors Light sales have been steadily increasing while sales of Miller Lite, for years the No. 2 light beer after Bud Light, have gone south.

The agency changes were made as part of a consolidation and trimming of the mega brewery’s creative and promotional agencies.

Outside agencies were not allowed to pitch the accounts, said MillerCoors’ chief marketing officer Andy England.

As he told Crain’s, “”We recognize there is a benefit in developing long-term relationships with agencies that already fully understand our business.”

In another local gain, Arc, Leo Burnett’s marketing services arm, won promotional assignments for eight brands, including Miller High Life, Miller Chill and Molson.

In June, when MillerCoors moves into its 130,000-sq. ft. of offices at 250 S. Wacker, it will be the first major brewery to be headquartered in Chicago since the Peter Hand/Meister Brau brewery closed in 1978.

The company will maintain operations in Milwaukee and Golden, Colorado, home, respectively, of Miller and Coors beers.

Chicago is a city that was built on beer. Because of its large German population, scores of breweries thrived here from 1854 until Peter Hand/Meister Brau brewery was sold to Miller Beer and the brand was phased out in 1978.

Some of those popular and now-forgotten Chicago brands were Sieben’s, Meister Brau, Monarch, Fox de Luxe, Canadian Ace, Pilsen, Prima, Olympia and Old Chicago. DraftFCB is located at 101 E. Erie; phone 312/425-5000. See