Miller Genuine Draft is tweaking corporate sponsorship of concerts up a notch with its Blind Date promotion, in which bands that typically play stadiums will perform for small audiences in intimate club settings.

The promotion marks Miller’s splashy return to using music-based events to tout its products, something it had stayed away from for several years. The beer-maker will back the return with an exhaustive slate of national TV, print and radio ads, as well as tie-ins with bars and restaurants.

“This is our first major program and we wanted to kick it off in a big way,” Bruce Winterton, senior brand manager of MGD told Daily Variety. “Music has a strong emotional connection, and anytime you can tap into that, it strengthens the link with your brand.”

Winners, who will not know the identity of the act until it hits the stage, will be culled from contestants responding to radio and print promotions, TV spots and bar contests. More than 3,000 promotions at clubs and bars will be used to create awareness.

Concerts will be held in L.A., San Francisco and Chicago, and will boast three different chart-topping acts in order to keep the surprise element.

Dubbed a “once-in-a-lifetime music event” by execs at Miller, the sponsorship goes beyond the typical logo placement on the backs of tickets, on a banner dangling near the stage or at the top of ads advertising an act’s upcoming concerts.

The promotion stands in contrast to, for example, Fruit of the Loom’s sponsorship of CountryFest, where 250,000 country music fans gather for one big event, or Benson & Hedges’ popular “100 Nights Live,” where 30 clubs in nine cities feature artists coordinated by the cigarette-maker. Miller’s “Blind Date” promo is designed to pique consumer interest and to create a memorable experience for fans that translates into goodwill and strong word of mouth among its target consumers.

“Also, we think there is something very cool in doing these small, intimate shows,” Winterton said. “And it probably gets a bigger buzz than if we sponsored a major tour.”

Miller will mirror the process in the Latin music genre, but will offer attendance at surprise concerts through invitation rather than contests.

Dubbed Solo Con Invitacion, (by invitation only), the promotion will tap the genre’s hottest female artists to appear at concerts in L.A. and San Francisco.

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