Heineken USA's Amstel brand last year launched 90-calorie Amstel Xlight in Arizona, Texas and Boston. A new campaign by GSD&M is called "Fit for Real Life" and shows people doing improvised at home workouts like lunging along the kitchen floor with a rolling pin.
The brands are chasing Ultra, which ended last year as the sixth-largest beer after posting 21.3 percent shipment growth, according to Beer Marketer's. By contrast the nation's largest beer, 110-calorie Bud Light, fell 5.7 percent. Ultra, which launched in 2002 during the Atkins diet craze, has successfully fended off challengers before. MillerCoors took a swing at Ultra a few years ago by pouring marketing dollars behind its 64-calorie Miller64 brand. But the ads failed to do much for the brand. It's around but barely supported. MillerCoors' newest approach is to plug Miller Lite as having "more taste and half the carbs" of Bud Light.
As it faces a new round of competitors, Ultra is trying to stay fresh with the Pure Gold line extension. While the lower calorie count will be plugged in marketing, the brand will also play up the fact that it is brewed with organic grains. While some craft beers are marketed as organic, this marks the first time a big brew has gone there, says Ultra VP Azania Andrews.