A-B Votes to Integrate Brands in Comedy Central's Political Coverage

Brewer Shoots for Branded-Entertainment Success It Didn't See With Bud.TV

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NEW YORK -- Bud.TV may not have been the runaway success Anheuser-Busch was looking for online, but on TV the beermaker is about to amp up its branded-entertainment efforts via a new integrated-marketing deal with Comedy Central.
Bud Light and possibly Bud Light Lime are two A-B brands that will be integrated in a Comedy Central programming block.
Bud Light and possibly Bud Light Lime are two A-B brands that will be integrated in a Comedy Central programming block.

Tentatively titled "Friday Night Brew Haha," the partnership will integrate A-B's brands into a two-hour programming block for "Indecision 2008 Friday Night Stand-Up." The politically themed episodes will feature customized promos, billboards and commercial adjacencies for the marketer on TV and on comedycentral.com, including animated spots to be integrated into the show.

Crafted specifically for A-B
Jeff Lucas, exec VP-ad sales for the MTV Entertainment Group, said the calendar-year deal was crafted specifically for A-B. "We wanted to make sure it sets them apart, and being a part of 'Indecision' sets you apart right away," he said. The first "Friday Night Stand-Up" will air at the end of March and feature the Bud Light brand, while the second could coincide with the national rollout of the new Bud Light Lime brand in May.

Each of the series' advertisers is category-exclusive, so they don't compete with one another, which is "key to what Comedy Central stands for, in terms of political humor, and we're associating a number of brands with that," Mr. Lucas added.

The "Indecision" deal does not include Comedy Central's flagship late-night series, "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," or "The Colbert Report." Mr. Lucas said the network tries to maintain the credibility of the shows and their hosts by "honor[ing] basically the same rules, in many ways, as you would with a conventional news show. They take it very seriously, that viewpoint they deliver on the news to the viewers, so we walk a very fine line." But occasionally brands can get in on the action via a prewritten jokes from one of the show's writers or, in the case of "The Colbert Report," a fake presidential campaign.

The A-B deal, executed with the company's in-house Busch Media Group, also signifies Mr. Lucas' approach to branded entertainment, which is to partner as early as possible. "Branded integration is very interesting. Many clients will talk it; not many can do it," he said. "It has to be planned out from the early phases of what you want to accomplish, whether it's from the script phase, non-script or marketing, so you come off the right way to the viewer. If they see it's commercial, they smell it's too commercial, and it turns the client off."

Partnering with an established comedy brand both on TV and online could also bring some audience back to Bud.TV, which notably struggled to meet the 3 million page views A-B hoped it would rake in by 2007. In its first official month of launch last February, the site attracted 253,000 visitors, a number that sank to below 100,000 in May. The site did see an unexpected boom in activity last June after posting "Swear Jar," a shelved Super Bowl spot that drew nearly 1 million views on YouTube in its first two weeks alone.
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