When the winner of an online Miller Lite auction asks Eric Dickerson to pass the beer during Super Bowl XL next Sunday, don’t be surprised if the former NFL player reminds fans that running was his specialty — not passing. In conjunction with a Miller Lite promotional series, the Pro Football Hall of Famer’s brewski delivery services will be awarded to the highest bidder in an eBay auction, launched January 26.
“I think there are a lot of beer drinkers out there who may have never done an auction online before” who will visit eBay as a result of the promotion, suggests Miller Brewing Company spokesman Pete Marino.
The seventh in a series of charity auctions starring former pro football players, Miller Lite’s latest auction offers up a visit from the former NFL running back, who will accompany the winner during the Super Bowl and bring along an assortment of snacks and sudsy beverages. The auction is set to end February 2 and is part of Miller’s “Beer Runner” campaign, which has included nationwide TV spots created by WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam, as well as an online interactive game developed by Skyworks and Agency.com.
Miller has relied on media coverage through its PR firm, Dig Communications, to get the word out about the auctions, which have attracted an average of 3,000 page views each. As this story was being reported on Friday, the Dickerson auction high bid had leapt from $610 to over $2,000 in a matter of three hours, garnering 19 bids and 333 page views. While the most successful Miller auction thus far scored $2,425.00 for ex-Carolina Panther, Wesley Walls’s favorite charity, others for former-Oiler, Dan Pastorini, and ex-Philadelphia Eagle, Fred Barnett, earned just $207.50 and $305, respectively.
Miller decided to go the online auction route rather than being forced to comply with differing contest regulations throughout the country. Yet even an eBay auction put the company up against a few rules. Marino pointed to eBay’s policy against auctioning alcoholic beverages, calling it “one of the challenging elements of working with eBay.” According to eBay’s “Alcohol Policy” the company “does not permit the sale of alcoholic beverages on its U. S. website, except for certain pre-approved sales of wine and certain sales of collectible containers.” Still, says Marino, the “sheer magnitude of the eBay brand” was enough to attract Miller to the Web auction house. According to eBay spokesperson, Catherine England, Miller’s Beer Runner auctions satisfy the policy requirements.
There’s more online marketing to come for Miller, says Marino, who notes, “Online is becoming increasingly more important in the marketing mix at Miller Brewing Company. The majority of Miller Brewing Company programs moving forward will have an online component to them.”
Miller Lite experienced a surge in sales growth in 2004, in part by promoting its low carb status. In recent years, the brand has not only found itself contending with longtime rival, Bud Light, but duking it out with once lesser-known brands such as Yuengling Beer Company’s Yuengling Lager. The Pennsylvania-brewed Yuengling got the top spot on Information Resources’ 2004 Power Brand list, which measures beer brands according to volume growth, merchandising, sales growth, and other factors. Miller Lite made the fourth slot on that list, with Bud Light trailing at the legal beer-drinker’s number, 21. The 2005 rankings are due out in the next two weeks, according to IRI.
There’s no special relationship between eBay and Miller in conjunction with the promotion, according to eBay’s England, who stresses, “We want all buyers and sellers to have the same opportunities on the site.”
Eric Dickerson made his name in the NFL as a running back for the Los Angeles Rams and retired in 1993. Proceeds from the auction will go to Dickerson’s charity of choice, Casa Colina Rehabilitation Foundation, a California-based medical and rehabilitation facility that provides treatment for athletic injuries and other afflictions.
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