I am all for the global marketplace and beer being something to share around the planet. Heck, just today I secured a really dandy set of prizes for the 2008 photo contest from a noted Scottish brewery as well as a distributor of fine imports into North American - but are you really surprised by this bit of news out of the UK?
Scottish and Newcastle UK said it had reached agreement with Miller Brands UK to end the contract to brew, market and distribute Miller Beer in the UK with effect from December 2008. The standard lager will be withdrawn from sale in the UK market from early 2009. Mark Gerken, off-trade sales managing director at S&N UK, said: “We are committed to supplying our customers with brands that meet today’s consumer needs. The decision to withdraw Miller Beer from sale in the UK will allow us to fulfil this objective by drawing upon the combined S&N/Heineken range to create new and greater sales opportunities for our customers in 2009.”
How could this be? Did they think to try calling it MacMiller? Or maybe O'Miller? Lord Miller's Pale Ale perhaps? This sector of the beer trade means little to me but it is quite massive. What could Miller have meant to an English beer drinker? Was it the darling with flour manufacturers? It must have been something as, the article tells us, Miller Beer’s off-trade sales were worth £17 million - but they fell by 12% in the year to Oct 4. So in some many ways it seems that the message of the over-layering container design for a beer that tastes like "X" failed as a brand and now needs to be replaced by another over-layering container design.
The magic of branding.