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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Gingerbread Dive Bars

Gold Honor in Wine, Beer & Spirits

Silver Honor in Images


Founded on New Year’s Eve 1903 as one of the first bottled beers, Miller High Life has been known as the “Champagne of Beers” for more than a century.  

Despite its modest price tag and popular association with humble “dive bars,” the brand has consistently embraced opportunities to bring people together around moments that matter. And the holidays are, of course, one of those.  

In recent years, the brand has playfully participated in the holiday conversation by selling its “Champagne of Beers” in actual Champagne-sized bottles (for beer-sized prices), putting an affordable and festive spin on a holiday tradition. These delighted consumers and media alike.

But, in 2021, with people still largely stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand needed a new way to bring that festive, “Champagne” spirit to its fans.

Strategy and Execution

The brand put a truly High Life spin on a classic holiday pastime, the gingerbread house, by creating and selling gingerbread dive bar kits.  Yes, gingerbread dive bars, with features including …

Utilizing a broad media embargo, we shared the news that the High Life Dive Bar kits shortly after Thanksgiving, letting consumers know that (1) the kits existed and (2) they’d be able to purchase them on High Life’s website Dec. 7.

We shared a large cache of high-quality photos and also seeded kits to select outlets.

Flames were further fanned by providing kits directly to influencers, with a focus on real brand fans rather than on the largest followings. This led to more relatable –and ultimately more sharable– content.

One seeded influencer, Chicago beer expert Mike Zoller (@chicagobeer), ecstatically shared a series of unboxing and kit-building posts with his 24,500 Instagram followers, which includes a number of verified users. A major meme account, @theblessedone, took note of Zoller’s giddy posts and shared his content with its 3.7 million followers, simultaneously boosting the program’s reach and authenticity.


The response was both enormous and ecstatic, with USA Today declaring the kits “a very Milwaukee twist on a classic holiday tradition” and Food Network marveling that “they have seriously thought of everything, including the sticky floors.”

Not many stories score with the far-flung audiences of both BroBible (“the coolest holiday project you’ll find this year”) and Elite Daily (“get ready to upgrade your usual Gingerbread house”), but the Gingerbread Dive Bars did.

The story was all over the local TV and radio, national late night (James Corden-14:25), national radio (NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me”) food media (Food & Wine), lifestyle (Thrillist) and leading ad trades (AdAge, Adweek). Each outlet seemed to find its own favorite detail, with the sticky floors, pool table and pergola all getting lots of media love.

All told, there were 992 earned-media placements totaling 1.8 billion earned-media impressions, making it the farthest-reaching Miller High Life program to date. Of the more than 700 online placements and 290 broadcast hits, 100% of coverage was neutral-to-positive in tone and 99% of placements included branded visuals.

But more importantly, all that ecstatic coverage sparked real behavior. More than 15,000 people registered to purchase a kit, and the available supply was sold out within two minutes of release. (We extended the story with a sweepstakes to win additional kits.)

It also represented stunning value, as the program’s modest cost and massive reach led to a staggeringly low CPM of $0.10.


Video for Gingerbread Dive Bars

Entrant Company / Organization Name

ICF Next, Miller High Life


Entry Credits