Anheuser-Busch InBev, which continues to battle a former employee over charges that its beers are watered down, is using some current employees in a TV campaign touting the quality of Budweiser.
The ads feature A-B InBev's head brewmaster, Pete Kraemer, as well as five regional brewmasters in a back-to-basics approach that seeks to put faces behind the brand while promoting an app that gives drinkers more information on how their individual beer was made. The The Track Your Bud, which was launched last year, links each beer to its origins, including ingredients, by using the "born on date" on the bottle or can.
The ads include plenty of closeups of ingredients, as well as testimonials by the brewmasters. "I have dedicated my life to making sure that beer will be perfect," St. Louis-based Mr. Kraemer says in one of the spots.
The campaign, by Anomaly, will air on various TV networks in the coming weeks, including local and national sporting events and entertainment programming, according to A-B InBev.
The ads come in the wake of class-action lawsuits filed earlier this year charging that the brewer overstated the alcohol contents in its beer. The watered-down claims have been rebutted by independent tests conducted by media outlets, including NPR.
Nonetheless, A-B InBev has launched an aggressive PR offensive, including running full-page newspaper ads in March. Also, the brewer has filed a lawsuit against Jim Clark, a former director of operations support for the brewer that A-B InBev believes is behind the watered-down charges. Mr. Clark, now a lawyer in California, "improperly used and misrepresented our confidential information to instigate these lawsuits, all for his personal gain. We will take all legal means to stop him," A-B InBev said in a statement earlier this month.
When asked if the TV campaign is part of the brewer's PR offensive against the watered-down charges, a spokesman pointed out that the The Track Your Bud app was launched before those charges surfaced. He also noted that Budweiser has a long history of producing product-quality ads. For instance, check out this vintage spot featuring Ed McMahon touting the "special" foam on Budweiser.
Still, in recent years Bud ads have been more about image, including the ongoing "Grab Some Buds" campaign. So at the very least, the brewmaster ads signal that the brewer feels it needs to put more money behind product-quality messaging.