It’s Miller Time

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If you watched any football over the long Thanksgiving weekend, it was impossible to go without seeing a beer commercial.  Everyone knows marketing is a crucial part of macrobreweries’ business.  I sat down with Sarah Monson, MBA ’14, to hear about her Marketing Leadership Development Internship with MillerCoors.

How did you find your internship?

I honestly just found it online.  I identified brands that I particularly liked and wanted to work on.  There was a list of 3o brands I came up with.  I looked at MillerCoors website.  They’re known for their MBA marketing roles, so I took it from there.

Sarah Monson

Sarah Monson

What kind of work did you do?

I did a digital strategy for in-store, large format stores (That would be grocery and liquor).  I came up with ways for Miller Lite and Coors Light to own that digital space.  How can they drive consumers using digital before they go to the store?  How can they engage them in the store with digital?  And outside of the store, how can they remind them that they need another cold Coors Light?

We looked at social media campaigns that were successful, and why they were successful.  We came up with some metrics and some recommendations around that.  We looked at point of sale pieces that were digitally-enhanced.  We touched anything that had a digital element – so anything having to do with a computer.

We gave a half hour final presentation to a board of managers throughout the company, and some senior VPs and directors.  It was a really good experience.

How does MillerCoors position themselves against Anheuser-Busch InBev?

The only way Miller and Coors can compete with Bud is to be smart with their dollar spend.  They can’t just throw money at problems.  They have to really be sure that it’s going to be a successful solution, so they focus on getting good consumer insights.  They do a lot of focus groups, and data gathering and analysis before they launch something because they don’t have the money to have a failure.

When I was there we had the “Hunger Games,” which is how they decide what gets funded.  All of the managers have to go and present their ideas.  They get ripped apart, and pieced back together, and changed.  It’s really interesting to watch because everyone has to be on their game.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

Miller really treats their employees right.  Everything from having two bars in the building that open every day at 4:00, to taking us to baseball games and beer cave dinners.  They really want you to enjoy yourself, because that’s what the industry is.  They spend a lot of money showing us a good time.  There’s kind of a dynamic of ‘Let me help you any way I can, because we all want to win.’  I don’t think every company has that.

What were the biggest challenges?

I didn’t know anything about digital, so that was a huge challenge for me.  People’s perception of digital isn’t always accurate.  For example, people perceive QR codes as being the greatest thing in history.  When you’re talking about a CPG, it’s not.  People aren’t going to scan a QR code to learn more about their beer, particularly not a Miller or Coors Light.  Overcoming those perceived notions of digital was really challenging.

I also think it’s hard going to back to work.  You are exhausted at the end of the day cause you spent 9, 10, 11 hours figuring out how to fix a problem.  I think that’s an adjustment once you’ve been in school, where you work on a problem for three hours, and then go do something else.

What advice would you give to first years looking for an internship?

Don’t let anyone discourage you because you come from Iowa.  A lot of people asked me, “Iowa’s not a core school, how did you get here?”  You can get anywhere, you just really have to be determined about it.

Apply for everything.  Never turn down an interview.  You don’t know what’s going to fit you right until you try something out.  Don’t limit yourself in what you can succeed on.

During the internship, it’s all about making connections.  Take people to lunch, even if you have to pay for it yourself.  Connect with them via work and outside of work.  Talk with them about their dog, or whatever it is.  It makes a big difference, especially when you’re trying to push through a project.  Later, when it comes to being hired, it will make a difference.

For more information about joining Sarah at Tippie, please visit Full Time MBA Scholarships and University of Iowa MBA Admissions

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