If there’s a bar on TV, there’s a greater-than-usual chance it will be serving beer brewed by MillerCoors.
After establishing a landmark ad deal at Time Warner’s Turner networks last year that called for the placement of such beverages as Blue Moon and Miller Lite in shows like “Sullivan & Son,” “Franklin and Bash” and “Rizzoli and Isles,” the large brewer has crafted a bigger three-year pact along the same lines with 21st Century Fox’s suite of FX Networks.
Under the terms of the agreement, MillerCoors becomes the exclusive beer sponsor of the media unit as well as the only brewer to have first-look placement rights on FX programs in development, as well as placement on the company’s FX Now streaming service.
The brewer’s pact with Turner remains in place, said Scott Bussen, a MillerCoors spokesman. Interpublic Group’s Initiative, which has served as the media agency for all of MillerCoors for the past two years, started talks with FX and negotiated terms of the deal.
As part of the agreement, FX will devise appearances by Miller Lite and Miller High Life in its drama “The Americans” (tailored for the show’s 1980s setting); cameos by Coors Light and Blue Moon in the soon-to-debut series “The Strain”; integrations of Miller Lite in “The Bridge”‘; and guest roles from Miller Lite and Leinenkugel in “Fargo.”
MillerCoors and FX have a long relationship. In 2004, Miller agreed to an elaborate pact that put its products and logos in the Denis Leary-starrer “Rescue Me,” and which allowed the brewer to have a say in how its drinks were portrayed onscreen even as the products appeared alongside the foul-mouthed self-destructive firefighter who was the protagonist of the series. MillerCoors products have also appeared in the comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Sons of Anarchy.”
The pact comes as beer and spirits marketers have increased their TV ad spending over the past few years. In 2012, brewers spent more than $1 billion on TV ads, up from more than $950 million in 2009, according to market researcher Kantar. Spirits makers’ ad spending rose to slightly more than $243 million in 2012 from a bit less than $144 million in 2009, with a sharp increase from 2011 levels, Kantar said.
The MillerCoors strategy is driven by a desire to become more relevant among young men of drinking age, who may not want to sit through traditional commercials, according to a person familiar with the FX agreement. MillerCoors has also entered into content agreements with AOL and Complex Media. Having an in-program presence in appropriate programming can help the brewer avoid having its ad messages skipped with use of a DVR and also gives its products a presence as various shows are picked up for syndication and video streaming.
“Beer is all about the conversations that happen between friends, and so our objective is to make sure our brands are woven throughout the entertainment programming that matters most to beer drinkers,” said Jackie Woodward, vice president of marketing connections at MillerCoors, in a prepared statement. “The programming on FX networks holds strong appeal to our consumers, especially men ages 21 to 35, and with our portfolio of great beers, we have the brand for any occasion. This partnership underscores our commitment to telling our brand stories with the right message, in the right places and at the right time.”