MARCH MADNESS CATFIGHT-LESS

At a press conference in New Orleans , NCAA president Myles Brand told reporters that the NCAA had asked Miller not to run the “Catfight” ads during the final four.

Miller had prepared two new Catfight ads that were slated to air during the NCAA tournament on CBS. While the NCAA approved one ad, Miller voluntarily pulled both Catfight ads during the tournament.

CAMY AT IT AGAIN. Radio advertising for beer and distilled spirits in 2001 and 2002 reached more young people than people ages 21 and over, according to a survey of 19 markets released by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University in Washington, which is getting a lot of press. Compared with listeners of legal drinking age, the survey reported, listeners ages 12 to 20 heard 8% more advertising for beer and ale, 11.6% more for malternatives, and 14.5 % more for distilled spirits.

WASHINGTON TAKES NOTICE. Senators Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, and Christopher J. Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said they would monitor the extent to which alcohol advertising reaches young people and might hold a hearing. The Beer Institute issued a press release last week pointing out that underage drinking has actually declined over the past two decades, and parents are the number one influence on whether kids drink. Perhaps the reason CAMY’s study skews heavily toward the young is simply because they listen to the radio more.

NO PRICE GAP YET. As pricing continues to be healthy in the US beer business, we’ve been keeping a sharp eye on the relative volume trends of sub-premium brands compared to premium and imports. IRI scan numbers show that we still have nothing to worry about as sub-premium brands were down 1.8% in volume for Q1, while premium brands were up 2.8% and imports were up 5%. Craft beers were also up a healthy 5.5%.

LIVING THE HIGH LIFE. The exception which proves the rule is Miller High Life, which is surprisingly buoyant lately, up 5% in March in supermarkets when many other brands were hurting. To put it in perspective, the High Life brand is about half the size of Miller Lite. Perhaps their new ads are taking hold.

ANOTHER BRAND THAT IS PICKING UP STEAM is Guinness Stout, although it is being heavily price promoted. The brand is up 19% in supermarkets in March while pricing was down -5.5%. Trailing 52 week trends are at 18%, so the promoting is at least giving the brand significant lift.

HANNIBAL THE CANNIBAL. A few good brands are suffering from cannibalization from their line extensions. In March scans Michelob was down 26% while its cousin Mich Ultra is just shy of a 2 share in supermarkets. Sam Adams also has been hit by Sam Adams Light, with the full calorie version down about 9% in Q1.

Beck’s was down about 7% but it doesn’t have a line extension to blame, just a growing anti-German sentiment. In fact, BrandWeek reported last week that Amstel Light, Heineken, and Beck’s were identified in a survey as being most at risk of consumer backlash during war times.MTD Sell Day: 5 Sell Days This Month: 22 Sell Days This Month Last Year: 22 YTD Over/Under Sell Days: 0 This Month Ends on a: Wed. Last Year This Month Ended on a: Tue.