For both Coors, now merged with The Miller Brewing Company and competitor Budweiser, the marketing challenges have been many. Loss of sales to the growing popularity of spirits and smaller craft breweries have hurt the domestic beer business but that does not entirely explain why Coors has prospered while the wheels have fallen off at Budweiser. Coors has benefited by being in the stable with Miller and some of Coors' sales have come at the expense of Miller but you have to credit the company for clear positioning in its advertising, It's tagline --The World's Most Refreshing Beer— makes a compelling and easily understood consumer promise and its unique cans where the mountains turn blue when the beer is ice cold help deliver when it counts most, when the product is in the hands of the consumer.
Its run as the official beer of the NFL, a contract that ends this year, has also contributed to its success. For Budweiser, the bloom has been off the rose for some time. The brand has seen declining share for the last two decades, shrinking by more than 29 percent in the last five years alone. Its lackadaisical tagline --It's What We Do--is lazy and reminiscent of Chevy Runs Deep, lines that both try to tap into whatever reserves might exist from their legacy positions as category leaders.
One way to look at the decline of these large brands is to consider that while aging boomers are spending less on fast food and beer –- their spending created the current rankings, Millennials are not locked into their parents' brands, are spending their dollars differently and will ultimately create a whole new slate of top brands as their influence continues to grow. Many argue that explanation is too simplistic and that putting the blame on new consumers whitewashes the many internal business and external marketing mistakes that Budweiser and Burger King continue to make.
Pan Am went out of business because it couldn't compete in a deregulated marketplace where their routes weren't protected by the government. In the current environment with our ever-present media and the ability consumers have to be heard and to share their opinions broadly; companies who can't make clear promises and deliver on them will be passed by their faster, smarter, better communicating rivals.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Larry Woodard is a director on the Advertising Week board and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' New York Council.
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