Anheuser-Busch Adds Anomaly in Bid to Pump Up Iconic Bud Brand

Struggling Brew Could Be Boost for Indie Shop -- and Bane for DDB

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CHICAGO ( -- The king of beers is looking for some fresh ideas from a new advertising-agency partner in an effort to stave off a sustained Stateside sales slide.

Anheuser-Busch will be seeking input from independent shop Anomaly as the brewer seeks to pump up its iconic Budweiser brand, which has suffered sales declines.

"Anomaly has been added to A-B's roster of U.S. agencies," Keith Levy, VP-marketing for Anheuser-Busch, told Ad Age in a statement. "Anomaly will be one of many agencies submitting work for the Budweiser brand. ... This is U.S. only, and they are not working on any other brands in this market."

Anomaly executives Carl Johnson and Jason Deland did not return requests for comment.

The addition of Anomaly, which has offices in New York and London, means new competition for Omnicom Group's DDB, which has been the lead agency for the iconic Budweiser brand in the U.S. since the mid-1990s and global agency of record for the brand since late 2009.

For Anomaly -- which in recent years has focused less on agency-of-record and retainer clients and more on incubating and investing in new ventures with celebrity chef Eric Ripert and beauty maven Lauren Luke -- the opportunity could bring substantial new business. The Budweiser brand accounted for $107.8 million in measured media spending in 2009, according to Kantar Media. Anheuser-Busch InBev spent nearly $1.5 billion on all its brands in the U.S. in 2009.

While most beer sales have fallen in the recession, Budweiser has suffered a steeper decline than other A-B brands. Shipments dropped 9.5% in 2009 for Bud, compared with 2.5% for Bud Light, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

The drop continued a long-running trend that A-B sought to slow with a campaign launched late last year. The "It's What We Do" ads play off the beer's long-running presence in the American psyche. One spot flashes back to once-trendy greetings such as fist bumps and chest bumps, and reminds viewers that "one greeting stands the test of time, with a beer that starts with full flavor and ends with a crisp, clean finish."

The addition of Anomaly comes nearly two years after InBev's takeover of Anheuser-Busch. InBev has cited the global potential of the Budweiser brand with an eye toward transforming it into the Coca-Cola of beers. Anomaly has done advertising work for Coke, including for its Dasani and Gold Peak Tea brands. A-B stressed in the statement that Anomaly's work will be focused on the U.S. market, however.

Industry executives say the company has also opened up the process for pitching Super Bowl creative spots. Traditionally, it's conducted a "jump ball" of roster shops such as DDB, Cannonball, St. Louis, but now is inviting others from outside that family to pitch ideas, too.

A-B declined to discuss specifics about its plans for Anomaly.

DDB retains a strong foothold in the brewer's global business. The network's Sao Paulo agency, DM9 DDB, is believed to have won a fierce contest against Publicis Group's Leo Burnett to launch Budweiser in Brazil. That win comes on the heels of campaigns DDB created for Budweiser around the World Cup, and a launch in the Russian market in May under the "Bud" trademark with TV and online campaigns.

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