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Behind the Miller Lite Bar That Aired a Super Bowl Ad in the Metaverse


Executive creative director at DDB San Francisco Ben Wolan speaks to LBB’s Ben Conway about Miller Lite’s Meta Bar and using Web3 innovations to “hack” the Super Bowl

Behind the Miller Lite Bar That Aired a Super Bowl Ad in the Metaverse

Due to Anheuser-Busch’s exclusivity deal with the Super Bowl, rival brewing company Molson Coors have to be a little creative when it comes to earning a share of the Big Game’s eyeballs. Not being able to purchase a traditional TV spot, Molson Coors came to DDB to create an innovative Super Bowl ‘hack’ that would steal some attention away from the big screen during the game of games for their brand Miller Lite. 

Working with the browser-based metaverse project ‘Decentraland’, DDB created a virtual bar for Miller Lite aficionados to watch their Super Bowl ad whilst enjoying a virtual brewski - and maybe a physical one - with friends, from the comfort of their own homes. 

Attendees could earn limited-edition cosmetic items for their Decentraland avatar, with Miller Lite branding - all of which sold out within minutes, leading to some being resold for $250k or more. Unlike a regular Super Bowl TV spot, which usually lasts from 30 seconds to one minute, DDB San Francisco ECD Ben Wolan reports that the bar’s visitors spent an average of 20 minutes within the ad - socialising with other avatars, earning premium wearables and watching the Miller Lite Super Bowl spot, made in partnership with m ss ng p eces and Golden Animation Studios.

Speaking to LBB’s Ben Conway, DDB San Francisco’s executive creative director Ben Wolan gave us an insight into using this emergent Web3 technology to disrupt Super Bowl advertising and how creating a campaign in the metaverse feels like the beginning of the next online evolution. 

LBB> So, how did the event go? What was the turnout like at the bar and what was the general reaction? 

Ben> It went great, although this was so new for us, we didn’t exactly have set expectations. We had tons of press pickup and saw major traffic at the bar throughout the campaign. We even had dozens of people waiting out front before we opened. According to the data we’ve seen, this has been the biggest event in Decentraland by a landslide. There have been people walking around wearing Miller Lite shirts everywhere and all our premium wearables were snatched up within minutes. Some are now being resold for upwards of $250k. Which I can barely even comprehend…

LBB> Did Molson Coors come to you with the idea of doing something alternative to a TV spot? Or did you approach them with the idea? How did the metaverse bar idea come about initially? 

Ben> Molson Coors came to us with a desire to get a ton of earned media and steal share during the Super Bowl, and a very low budget. On top of that, they’re also blocked out of the Super Bowl by AB InBev’s exclusive deal with the NFL, so a TV spot was never on the table for many reasons. So, we came back with a few ideas, all of which were unexpected ways to “hack” the rules around the big game and make some noise for the brand. The Meta Lite Bar was the idea that felt the most topical and still allowed for us to express the tone of the brand effectively.

LBB> How did you decide on using the Decentraland platform to host the event? What did it offer that made it the best metaverse platform to use? 

Ben> Decentraland is a super low barrier Metaverse world. With Super Bowl drawing the broadest of audiences, and Miller drinkers spanning from the tech-forward to the, well, simple beer lover, we knew we needed something that was easy to access.

LBB> Is this something that you want to do more of in the future? What would you repeat or change in future meta events? 

Ben> Both on behalf of the brand and as an agency, we’ll definitely be playing in this space again. I think asking this question in 2022 will be akin to asking if we plan on advertising on the internet in 2004. That said, this feels like that very early internet work, we’re at the beginning of something and I think will evolve drastically over the next couple years. We might look back at this one and laugh a bit at how basic it feels. That is all part of trying to innovate.

LBB> What has been your favourite interaction with people who attended the event? Were you sent a lot of virtual selfies? 

Ben> One of my favourite interactions was when a bunch of avatars started dancing on the bar and other avatars began throwing money at them. It was like Coyote Ugly circa 2022.

LBB> I’m sure you’ve answered plenty of questions about this already, so is there a benefit of doing a metaverse event that people haven’t asked about as much or has gone relatively unappreciated? 

Ben> I think it simply allows for us to take advantage of people’s curiosity about the Metaverse in general. Most people don’t totally understand what it is, even including some of the team before we began this journey! But the result speaks for itself: people spent an average of 20 minutes INSIDE our ad, and continued to return!

LBB> People had the chance to win some cool swag and beer both digitally and physically, how important is it to link the real world and virtual world in a campaign like this?

Ben> For Miller Lite, it’s absolutely crucial. First off, the brand is all about authentic connections and while that does happen in virtual worlds, it still mostly happens here in the physical world. Also, you can’t truly enjoy a cold Miller Lite without the physical interaction of liquid and your actual mouth.

LBB> The film itself is very ‘meta’ - how long did you have to create the film, and how was that process? 

Ben> It was the fastest ‘conceptual commercial’ I’ve ever made. Of course, you can make videos in hours, but animated storytelling takes time. We did this in a matter of a few weeks, which is a huge testament to our team at DDB and our production partners.

LBB> The film makes reference to a lot of Super Bowl tropes and trends - and even finds time to make fun of itself. What was the process like of finding this tone and writing the copy? 

Ben> One of the core brand principles for Miller Lite is being self-aware, and this felt like the perfect time to poke some fun at ourselves as a brand and the cliches we see during Super Bowl ads as a whole. As a group of ad creatives who have worked on, voraciously consumed, and critiqued Super Bowl advertising over the years, referencing those tropes came pretty easily. 

LBB> Who worked on the production and animation for the film? How was it working with them? 

Ben> We created this in partnership with m ss ng p eces and Golden Animation Studios. m ss ng p eces was the perfect partner for this because we needed to blend cutting edge experiential advertising with more traditional commercial production, they had the right balance of experience with doing something new and something big.

LBB> What did Mssng P eces and Jason Zada bring to the spot that only he could? 

Ben> m ss ng p eces and Jason were amazing partners for this. Jason really kept pushing both sides of this production to be the best they could be and gave us some good perspective on the culture of the metaverse along the way. He was really collaborative and a great problem solver, which is key with a project of this scope and speed.

LBB> Were there any concerns about doing something in the metaverse? Were you worried that people would have difficulty finding or understanding it? Or was there more excitement than anxiety? 

Ben> Excitement. Anxiety. Both. We were very careful to make this as easy as possible to experience, considering how broadly appealing Super Bowl campaigns need to be. We were also comfortable knowing that some people would go experience it fully, while others might just learn about it through the press. There is value to both of those ways in.

LBB> What was the most difficult part of this project and how did you overcome it? 

Ben> Frankly, the time we had to pull this off was incredibly challenging. I almost can’t believe we did this and there were moments I wasn’t sure it would turn out as good as it did. I know it sounds cliché, but it really took all parts of the team, from client to agency to production partners, holding hands and being flexible along the way. Our clients often had to approve things on the spot and at all times of day and night. This only works with the solid relationship and trust that DDB and Molson Coors have with each other.

LBB> Anything else to add? 

Ben> This is just the beginning of us working on ideas in the metaverse and Web3 in general. I’m looking forward to more!

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DDB North America, Mon, 21 Feb 2022 17:20:00 GMT