A-B Seeks More Informative Messages for Its Star Brand

Wants Bud Light's Shops to Talk Up Product Benefits While Keeping the Laughs

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- The world's biggest beer brand is shopping for a makeover.

Anheuser-Busch has asked its agencies for ideas on how to incorporate more of a "product benefit message" into Bud Light's always chuckle-heavy but sometimes product-light advertising.
Why choose this beer?
"What we see with Bud Light is an opportunity to leverage the personality we've created over the years and incorporate product attributes and product benefits a little more," said Dave Peacock, A-B's top marketing executive.

The brewer has asked three shops to produce new Bud Light spots. Two of the agencies -- DDB, Chicago, and LatinWorks, Austin -- already do significant work on the brand, with DDB serving as its primary agency. The third, Euro RSCG, Chicago, has not previously worked on Bud Light, but it does handle A-B's Michelob brand.

The stakes are high. A-B spent $161 million on measured media for Bud Light during 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence, the highest spending behind any U.S. beer brand. That dominant position is perhaps not surprising considering nearly one out of every five beers purchased in the U.S. is a Bud Light.

The three shops are expected to present work later this month. Mr. Peacock said it was possible that the fruits of those presentations could be unveiled as part of the brewer's extensive sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics in August.

Moving in a new direction
Mr. Peacock noted that some recent Bud Light ads have dabbled in this approach. A series of Super Bowl ads from February focused on superhero-like abilities drinking Bud Light could deliver, and when those humorously backfired, instead hawked "superior drinkability."

Clearly, Mr. Peacock wants to push A-B's ads further in that direction. "Consumers today seem to be focused more on what the product offers," he said. "We can talk about that more directly."

In adopting a more product-focused approach, Bud Light seems to be taking cues from its rivals. No. 3 light beer Coors Light has boasted the sector's best growth trends of late, results that have been attributed to its consistent harping on "cold refreshment."

And Miller Lite, which hasn't fared as well as its new MillerCoors sibling, has been touting itself as "the ultimate light beer," a claim focused on taste, calories and carbohydrates.

Humor stays in the mix
But both Mr. Peacock and executives at agencies involved in the pitch said they expect Bud Light's new ads to continue emphasizing humor in a way that's familiar for the brand, even as the message focuses more on the liquid in the bottle. "They're asking, 'Where do we take it from here?'" said one ad executive involved in the pitch. "It's a chance to shape the next generation of Bud Light advertising."
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