Sports and beer go together, and that’s why Miller Brewing Co. leapt at the chance to advertise on ESPN when the network ended its beer exclusivity deal with Anheuser-Busch in 1994. Today Miller spends close to $40 million a year on ESPN and that figure is growing, said Steve Buerger, group director of marketing services at Miller.
Miller’s presence on ESPN includes sponsoring the network’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” with Chris Berman, Michael Irvin, Tom Jackson, Chris Mortensen and Steve Young. The show’s rating last year among men 18 to 34 rose 17 percent from 2.3 to 2.7.
The relationship between Miller and ESPN’s “Sunday Night Football” franchise extends beyond the show, associated promos and spots in the game itself, Mr. Buerger said. For instance, he said, the company also uses the “Sunday Night Football” association in its marketing material with its distributors. “It takes the Miller brand and takes it all the way into the markets we are trying to influence,” Mr. Buerger said.
Miller is also one of the presenting sponsors for ESPN’s “World Series of Poker” and sponsored one of ESPN’s first original movies, “A Season on the Brink,” in 2002. Earlier this year, Miller became one of the first advertisers for the network’s new ESPN Shorts, a product integration opportunity for brands to tell brief stories over a series of 90-second spots during “SportsCenter.” The Miller story focused on a family of Red Sox fans in Boston.
ESPN Shorts won awards from both Promax and CTAM.
“I think it’s one of the first times that content and advertising blended together to tell a story where the product [Miller] helped advance the story,” said Ed Erhardt, president, ESPN/ABC Sports customer marketing and sales.
Miller is one of ESPN’s top five advertisers, Mr. Erhardt said.