Introduced in 2016, the holiday collection began with one festive sweater and a beverage wrap. In 2017, the Soulsight team engaged with Miller Lite to redesign the sweater and expand the collection to include a stocking cap and socks. This new program received a positive reception from MillerCoors stakeholders, distributors, retailers, and consumers, resulting in an impressive 30K total orders. This year, the team introduced even more pieces — a branded scarf, a pair of mittens with a built-in Miller Lite can holder, and a stocking designed to hold cans — to join last year’s sweater, stocking cap, socks, and beverage wrap. 2018 is also the first year the holiday sweater was heroed in national TV spots.
“Miller Lite recognized that while most people look forward to the holiday season, everyone is busy and life can be stressful,” said Adam Ferguson, Chief Creative Officer at Soulsight. “They once again partnered with us to design a program that allows Miller Lite to connect with consumers in a fun and engaging way that adds to the spirit of the season.”
The Soulsight team explored a variety of creative ways that Miller Lite could capture the brand’s light-hearted nature and contribute to the season in a new, festive way. Focusing their approach on a minimalist can design as the centerpiece, the team built a world that exists around and animates the iconic can. While each item highlights a unique design element to showcase its own personality, the overall collection retains a single cohesive expression of the brand.
“We wanted to create items that Miller Lite consumers would genuinely want to add to their holiday wardrobes each year, said Stephen Merlo, Design Director at Soulsight. “To do so, we explored a range of patterns and iconography that we felt were ownable to the Miller Lite brand, and paired them with a simple illustration technique that’s popular among knitted garments – a festive style that’s often associated with the holiday season.”
Festive and familiar holiday themed icons offer a whimsical series of holiday experiences for the Miller Lite can that provide fun elements of surprise. Examples include a snow-globe, a sleigh being pulled by a reindeer, and branded ornaments. The team built the collection’s look and feel around Miller Lite’s established color palette, which lends itself nicely to the holiday theme. The new 2018 program included on-premise activation strategies for additional brand expressions, including: bar takeovers, ugly sweater parties with prizes, and social media engagement. Also new to this year’s campaign was the introduction of television ads (created by DDB Chicago).
While this campaign engages drinkers across many demographics and age groups (21+), it especially appeals to a specific group that is typically opposed to big brand marketing. With millennials being an important focus for the brand, it was important to create something that would resonate with them. Miller Lite was inspired by this generation’s nostalgia for the season, which can translate to shopping thrift stores or digging through their grandparents’ closets in search of classic holiday sweaters for bar parties, white elephant exchanges, and all-around quirky holiday festivities. The holiday collection connects with these consumers in a way that feels authentic, building on an existing cultural event that is embraced and celebrated as a piece of culture rather than a piece of marketing.
“This is such an authentic way to connect with millennials during the holidays,” says Erica Morris, Marketing Manager at Miller Lite. “They’re choosing to wear our sweaters to parties, post pictures of themselves to social media and champion our brand. We’re reminding consumers that there are also many occasions during the holidays that are built for Miller Lite, and where they can kick back and be their true self. Miller Lite stands for that.”
Following a huge success in 2017, sweater orders have jumped to almost 40K (up 30% compared to 2017). More than 400K knitwear items from the new collection have been ordered to date, with all but the sweaters already sold out for the year. To continue to build on this success, the team is currently hard at work researching new ways to grow the 2019 collection.
This year’s collection is available as part of promotional giveaways at bars, taverns and restaurants, as well as for purchase now at shop.millerlite.com.