A-B PLANS MORE SUPPORT FOR MICHELOB AND O'DOUL'S: BIGGER AD BUDGET WILL WORK TO COUNTER FALLING SALES

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Anheuser-Busch is planning to bolster marketing support for its superpremium Michelob and nonalcoholic O'Doul's brands in 1998.

The two, experiencing falling sales and declining support this year, will be backed with more ad dollars, said Bob Lachky, VP-brand marketing for the nation's No. 1 brewer.

"Both of those brands have great equities," Mr. Lachky said.

A-B now is in the midst of planning a marketing campaign for Michelob. Topping the list is new and increased advertising that will position the brand family-including the light and specialty extensions-as being a notch above other regular domestic brews.

"You're going to get image advertising for the brand conveying it as something slightly better than premium," Mr. Lachky said.

Through the 52 weeks ending July 13, Michelob posted supermarket sales of $62.7 million, down 10.2% from the year-earlier period, according to Information Resource Inc. Michelob Light grew 1.3% to $97 million. In 1996, shipments of Michelob dropped to 5.4% to 2.2 million barrels while Michelob Light posted a 7.1% increase to 2.6 million barrels, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

SPENDING DOWN 63.2%

During the first three months of 1997, A-B spent $1.6 million in measured media for the Michelob brands, down 63.2% from the year-earlier period, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Michelob is handled by Glennon Cos., St. Louis.

Supermarket sales of O'Doul's have been off as well, down 12.5% to $44.2 million, according to IRI. A-B shipped 925,000 barrels of O'Doul's in '96, down 2.6% from the previous year, per BMI.

SPOT RADIO FOR O'DOUL'S

There was no measured ad support for O'Doul's in the first quarter of 1997, although spot radio ads from Brado Cueno, St. Louis, broke in May.

A-B has not given up on the brand and plans to pump up support next year.

"We're trying to get into the adult beer drinker's share of stomach," Mr. Lachky said.

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