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New Jay-Z Movie Will Be Backed By Budweiser

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Anheuser-Busch InBev's reasoning behind strengthening ties with Steve Stoute's agency Translation is becoming more clear, given news today that the "Made in America," concert festival the agency put together is now being made into a film by Hollywood heavy-hitters Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

What's more, when the movie comes out, the brewer's U.S. Marketing VP Paul Chibe will have equal billing with rapper Jay-Z as an executive producer. Mr. Stoute is a co-producer with Mr. Grazer, while Mr. Howard is the movie's director. The filming will largely take place during the two-day festival in Philadelphia in early September, which features some 25 hip-hop and electronic-dance music acts.

Paul Chibe
Paul Chibe

As Mr. Chibe tells the story of how the film came about, Mr. Stoute presented the concert idea to the brewer, but it was Mr. Chibe who took it a step further, suggesting that a film of the event be made -- using heavyweight talent -- with Budweiser serving as an investor.

"The way that Budweiser remains an icon is to be a force in pop culture," said Mr. Chibe. "Things like this are exactly the kinds of things that a brand like Budweiser should do."

Mr. Stoute worked with Mr. Grazer, who co-founded movie and TV production company Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard, on the film "8-Mile," starring Eminem. After Mr. Chibe suggested the concert movie, Mr. Stoute rang up Mr. Grazer, who says it was a "fortuitous event."

"Ron and I try to do new things, and this is a new thing; I like high-stakes creative challenges," said Mr. Grazer. Asked what we can expect out of the film, he said "I hope what happens is that we are able to find a vertical narrative that drives the story but integrates in all these great acts and a lot of it is filtered through the perspective of Jay-Z's mind...it'll have footage and the story will be informed by the footage that Ron shoots but it will have a story and narrative that drives through it."

Mr. Grazer noted the film will be assembled "pretty quickly" and then the filmmakers will choose a distributor. They do not yet have a timetable for when they hope it to be released. But it's safe to say we can expect the film to be submitted into film festivals.

Mr. Grazer added that he's excited about the involvement of Budweiser in the film, and when asked why he said: "I like their media campaigns. They always capture my interest...they are dynamic and progressive. That's the extent of my knowledge of Budweiser."

Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch InBev dumped its lead agency for Bud Light, Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen, after only eight months. Without a review, McGarryBowen was supplanted by Translation Advertising, a roster agency brought aboard in tandem with McGarryBowen that was originally intended to handle work for line extensions such as Bud Light Lime and Bud Light Platinum.

When Translation took over as the main agency for Bud Light, people near the situation told Ad Age that among the reasons were a frustration with planning executives and problems with testing. But now it feels like whatever problems there may have been, it'd be difficult for the agency -- whose founder John McGarry boasts some of the best connections in adland -- to compete with the entertainment and music industry connections that Mr. Stoute can offer.

In short, Mr. Stoute may be the one person on Madison Avenue with a more robust rolodex than Mr. McGarry.

On Budweiser's part, the involvement in this film feels like an increasing move toward branded entertainment and an attempt to be more central to the cultural conversation. Budweiser in the past has sponsored concert tours for acts like the Rolling Stones, and it used to run a concert series called "SuperFest," but this is a huge investment in music and entertainment on behalf of the brewer.

Additionally, given the strengthened relationship with Translation, whose roots are in multicultural advertising, and the concert's lineup being heavy on hip-hop (in addition to Jay-Z, the acts include Drake, Rick Ross, Wale, Janelle Monae, and Jill Scott), it also signals a focus on Bud's part to try and capture more fans in the urban demographic.

"This is us being innovators and thinking differently and trying to connect with our consumers," said Mr. Chibe.

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