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Miller pumping out new ads, new brands.

Associated Press--Fresh laces, new brands and plans for new ads have pulled Miller Brewing Co. out of its slump, beer industry observers say.

John Bowlin took over as president of the Milwaukee-based brewery 10 months ago.

Since then, the company shuffled executives, added four new brands and a new brewery, and launched a long-awaited ad campaign for its second-largest brand, Genuine Draft. It also expanded its contract to brew beer for Pabst Brewing Co.

Things don't appear to be slowing down. A reorganization of Miller's sales force took effect last week, Bowlin said.

The shuffling will put more field sales representatives into contact with growing supermarkets, convenience stores and other retail chains that are becoming increasingly important customers.

Sales reps also will spend less time auditing and "policing" distributors and more time selling with them, Bowlin said.

Miller's 1999 underlying operating income of $540 million, a 19.7 percent increase from its 1998 profit of $451 million, said Philip Morris Cos., Miller's corporate parent.

Sales were also up 4.8 percent to $4.3 billion from 1998 sales of $4.1 billion for the fourth' quarter that ended Dec. 31, Philip Morris reported last week.

The higher profits were driven by the new brands Miller bought from Pabst and Stroh Brewery Co., the increased brewing contract with Pabst and higher beer prices.

Miller's purchases of Olde English 800, Hamm's, Mickey's and Henry Weinhard's increased its U.S. market share from 21.2 percent to 21.6 percent, Beer Marketer's Insights says.

Genuine Draft sales declined 2.1 percent last year, and the 2.2 percent sales increase for Lite, Miller's top brand, lagged well behind sales increases posted by competitors Bud Light and Coors Light.

The Miller Genuine Draft ads are the first new campaign for the brand since 1998, but the Lite ads, which revived the old "Tastes Great, Less Filling" theme.

The spots are helping sell the brand, which revived last year after a sales decline in 1998, Bowlin said.

But Bob Mikulay, Miller Brewing Co.'s senior vice president of marketing, said he is pushing ad agency Ogilvy & Mather to find a bigger answer than the current ads.

A-B to sponsor debates

Anheuser-Busch Co.'s has announced it has been selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates as a national sponsor of the four presidential debates on the Election 2000 schedule. It is the sole sponsor of the debate scheduled for october 17 at Washington University in St. Louis. The company has reported that it will provide $550,000 to pay for expenses for the debate at Washington U.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 7, 2000
Words:432
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