Miller Lite has partnered with J Balvin on a campaign around what the reggaeton star does in his downtime, when he just goes by José, according to a news release.
"Es José Time" is inspired by the brewer's longstanding Miller Time concept centered on carving out moments for relaxation and beer. The effort, which was developed with creative agency Alma, kicks off with limited-edition Miller Lite cans featuring Balvin's lightning bolt and neon aesthetic, with future merchandise and experiences on the way.
To promote the rollout, Balvin took over a bodega in New York City and surprised shoppers purchasing the custom Miller Lites, with their reactions captured on video. The partnership will build out over the coming months with a thematic through line of quality time with friends and family as consumers contend with new disruptions stemming from the pandemic.
In working with J Balvin, born José Álvaro Osorio Balvín, Miller Lite hopes to tap into the fanbase of a global star who has been dubbed the "Prince of Reggaeton." Rather than leaning into the artist's arena-sized qualities, the Molson Coors-owned brewer is depicting him in a candid fashion to link the partnership to its Miller Time platform and create a stronger sense of authenticity.
"What I love about my partnership with Miller Lite is how we are showing my human side," said Balvin in a press statement. Balvin recently spoke to People Magazine about his harrowing experience surviving a case of COVID-19 last year, which led him to reflect on staying close with friends despite his celebrity status — themes echoed in "Es José Time" and Balvin's takeover of a local bodega as a cashier meant to surprise guests.
Other aspects of the tie-up seek to establish a stronger connection to consumers at the community level. Miller Lite is donating $50,000 to Latino-owned businesses like bodegas and corner stores through the Accion Opportunity Fund nonprofit. Brands have continued to apply their marketing muscle to help out local establishments contending with the ongoing chaos of the pandemic. Pepsi late last year teamed with Bodega Boys hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero to provide relief to New York bodegas.
Miller Lite at the same time is running an online contest through EsJoseTime.com where fans can enter to win prizes like Balvin-branded sunglasses, koozies, water bottles and decks of cards, with some items signed by the artist.
Alcoholic beverage marketers are turning to popular musicians to drum up interest in product launches and attract younger consumers. AB InBev, Molson Coors' chief rival, recently introduced a hard seltzer developed with rapper Travis Scott called Cacti Agave Spiked Seltzer. Executives have indicated the offering has sold well even as the broader hard seltzer market shows signs of cooling.
Molson Coors is adjusting strategy as it tries to account for quickly changing consumer tastes. In May, the company killed off Coors Seltzer after the product spent less than a year in market. Last month, the brewer announced plans to sunset 11 economy brands and roughly 100 SKUs to further prune its portfolio.
Clarification: This story has been updated to mention the creative agency behind the "Es José Time" campaign, Alma.