Return to: Articles Index


December 2000: It's Miller Time - Online

Ever hanker for lunch at the Playboy Mansion? Want to own a race car chassis from a winning Indy 500 driver? Attend a Sports Illustrated photo shoot? Even play a mock football game with your friends at Texas Stadium?

From May 1 to mid-August viewers could bid on all of the above and more by participating in Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Company's 'Get the Goods' online auction.

According to Scott Bussen, Miller Lite marketing communications manager, the auction's goal was twofold - to provide adult beer drinkers nationwide with an opportunity to bid and win unique items, while simultaneously benefiting a number of charitable and community-based organizations.

On May 1, U.S. residents of legal drinking age logged onto to participate in the auction. Participants could use cash or 'Miller Beer Bucks.' (legal in 39 states). The Beer Bucks were awarded when a person bought Miller Lite or Miller Genuine Draft—buy a 12-pack and you get 12 Miller Beer Bucks, for example. As part of the registration process, users were asked to select a charitable organization.

"This was our primary summer promotion," Bussen said. "The branding strategy involved a fully integrated marketing promotion revolving around the online program."

Bussen said this included running TV ads in June and July, print ads in Sports Illustrated, a radio campaign, out-of-home advertising and of course, an extensive online marketing blitz. Content integration and banner advertising ran from May 15 through Aug. 15 on sites such as CBS Sportsline, Sporting News, ESPN, Maxim Magazine, Playboy, Rivals and SpeedVision. The most unique element to the online branding campaign involved the use of Superstitials®, a proprietary technology created by Unicast, a New York City online advertising services company.

Superstitial ads are pre-loaded in the background into the browser cache while the user is idle, meaning the site content has been completely downloaded and the bandwidth is free. Once loaded and ready to play, the ad file remains in the browser cache until the user signals he is done with the current page of content and clicks to request a new page.

The Superstitial ad then opens and plays immediately in its own window between the pages of content while the new page streams behind it. The cache-and-play delivery system minimizes latency problems often experienced with streaming online advertising promotions. The ads also feature full animation, sound and graphics.

Miller used Superstitials because they provided viewers with an advertising experience that is more like an instant TV commercial than a slow streaming Internet file. Miller Lite didn't want to use interstitials, which are pop-ups that are streamed in along with content. They compete with a Web site's loading process, affect download time and slow down the user's experience.

Unicast created three 15-second Superstititials that ran from May 30 to Aug. 2. Each encouraged viewers to visit the online auction site for the chance to bid on items and experiences.

Bussen said the online auction was a success. There were 21,656 bids placed on the site, 338,497 unique users, and 602,958 user sessions. The average user session length was just over 12 minutes. All of the cash proceeds went to charitable organizations. Some of these included AIDS Action Foundation, America's Second Harvest, City of Hope, Easter Seals, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, and United Cerebral Palsy.

"Many of the items had more than 50 bids and the bidding became quite heated at times," Bussen said.

Key items and services sold included:

 $178,025 - Harley 2000 XLH Sportster 883 39,000 - Bobby Rahal chassis 20,500 - Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot trip 18,200 - Lunch at the Playboy Mansion 2,600 - Rusty Wallace pit passes 810 - Play a mock game at Texas Stadium 

Bussen added that the multi-million campaign raised six figures for the various charities (Miller Lite declined to reveal exact figures for the online auction and total charitable contributions).

"'Get the Goods' got adult beer drinkers excited and talking about Miller," Bussen said. "But the best part is that we accomplished this while supporting organizations that make a difference in our communities."

Return to: Articles Index