A-B TESTS DAYTIME FOR LOW-ALCOHOL BREW

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Anheuser-Busch next week will start advertising a new low-alcohol brew on an unusual medium for beer: daytime TV.

The brewer is pitching Catalina Blonde -- being tested in three markets -- at women ages 28 to 45, male baby boomers and adults 50 and older, so buys on such programs as "Oprah" and the "Rosie O'Donnell Show" seemed a logical fit, said a brewery spokesman.

A-B also will run ads in prime-time programming, late-night TV and on cable, as well as radio.

Print ads are slated for Modern Maturity.

A-B's lead agency, DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, is handling the campaign, with the tagline "Catalina Blonde . . . It's a trip."

$1.1 MIL SUMMER AD BUDGET

The brewer is budgeting $1.1 million for advertising through the summer; at that point A-B will evaluate the brand's performance.

The brewer sees an opportunity because light beers still are growing in popularity. Catalina has one-third the alcohol of normal light beers and 86 calories.

"We're taking care of the light beer demand and offering the consumer an alternative to soda or a non-alcoholic product," said one wholesaler involved in the launch.

The brand, showcased at A-B's wholesaler meeting last month (AA, March 16), is being tested in Albany, N.Y.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and St. Louis.

A low-alcohol beer is nothing new; in 1984, A-B introduced a similar product called LA that failed.

"It was ahead of its time," the wholesaler said of LA.

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