The brewer plans to argue on July 15 in the California Superior Court of Los Angeles that its Budweiser "Buy the Beer, Get the Gear" promotion complies with state laws governing alcohol marketing.
Under the promotion, backed by more than $12 million in marketing support, Bud buyers earned points that they could exchange for merchandise.
The promotion, which kicked off in May and was supposed to run through October, "was developed in compliance with California guidelines to reward consumer loyalty," said Dane Starling, an A-B VP.
The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control filed suit against A-B on June 27. The regulatory agency charged the promotion violated state laws banning giveaways tied to alcohol sales (AA, June 16).
Judge Diane Dwayne agreed with the regulatory agency and, in a June 30 temporary restraining order, directed A-B to suspend all Bud Gear radio, TV and print ads. DDB Needham Worldwide, Chi-cago, created the ads. Notices of the promotion's suspension were to be placed on store displays.
Outdoor ads were unaffected.
California A-B wholesalers expressed frustration with the order, which went into effect just before the Fourth of July weekend.
Separately, the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control is probing similar programs by other alcoholic beverage producers.