The No. 1 brewer will divert an undisclosed portion of its local TV dollars to buy national spots during the upcoming Winter Olympics and soccer's World Cup.
Bob Lachky, VP-brand management at A-B, said the remaining spot TV dollars will support regionally oriented brands and national brews in crucial markets.
"We want a stepped-up presence on our national properties," said Mr. Lachky.
Busch Media Group, a unit of A-B, handles placement. DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, handles creative for A-B.
In focusing more on national media, A-B is following in the footsteps of archrival Miller Brewing Co., which decided to concentrate on national media to get more buying power and better exposure.
A-B also has cut spot TV spending in recent years. In 1996, the brewer diverted money to national advertising tied to the Summer Olympics.
Mr. Lachky declined to comment on whether the brewer would reinstate spot dollars after this year. "It's something we'll re-evaluate year to year," he said.
A-B plans to spend $300 million in total to polish its image in '98, and national TV is considered the best agent.
Wholesalers gave the decision mixed reviews.
"They [had] better not [cut the spot budget]," said a large southeastern wholesaler that does co-op TV advertising with the brewer.
But a northeastern wholesaler said that brand-building is better done on the national level.
"National advertising is the real image-building thing," this wholesaler said.