Bud Ice gets humming with musical penguin

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New creative from A-B, Miller aims to attract younger drinkers

Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Co. are engaging in their usual round of March madness.

In both cases, the brewers are using new creative to target younger drinkers for their non-core brands.

For Bud Ice, A-B and agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, are offering a singing penguin. One new spot features a nonchalant yet humorously menacing penguin, whose signature is warbling a few bars of "Strangers in the Night."

`BEWARE THE PENGUINS'

A-B's use of the "Beware the penguins" spots on local and cable sports programming, including ESPN, should give the brand better mainstream coverage nationally and year-round, said Bob Lachky, VP-Budweiser brands.

"Bud Ice skews a little younger than the mainstream--to people from 21 to 27--and the only way to appeal to them was with something offbeat and a little edgy. Goodby came up with parodying the movie genres, a good area to go into."

In the singing spot, a film-noir detective is startled in his train compartment by the crooning, Bud Ice-seeking penguin. Another commercial has a suburban couple tormented by the penguin's crank calls from an upstairs room.

"The new penguin spots underline the fact that A-B is very serious about its core premium-price brands," Mr. Lachky said.

The brand has a $30 million to $40 million media budget, he said, noting sales for January and February are up 60% over the same two-month period in 1995.

However, last year Bud Ice shipped 1.6 million barrels, down 27.3% from 1994, according to Impact Databank.

The penguin campaign broke during the Super Bowl telecast in January, though that was just a test.

PLANK ROAD HITS TV

Miller on March 10 broke its first corporate identity spot for the 3-year-old Plank Road Brewery division, which markets Red Dog, Icehouse and new regional brands Northstone Amber Ale and Southpaw Light.

The spot, by BBDO Worldwide, Toronto, includes logos for all four brands; only Icehouse and Red Dog are available nationally.

In addition to the TV campaign, Plank Road is also breaking print and radio advertising, all using the theme "Against the grain."

Plank Road's Icehouse brand sold 1.5 million barrels in 1995, about even with its 1994 results. Red Dog had 1.7 million barrels, compared with the 300,000 shipped after its launch in late 1994.

RED DOG CLIFFHANGER

On March 10, Miller also broke the first spot from Red Dog beer's new four-part "cliffhanger," which features an Old West theme. Spots again feature the voice of Tommy Lee Jones, along with newcomers Jack Palance and Howie Mandel.

Miller spent an estimated $60 million on media for Red Dog last year.

The new spots depict a Western-style showdown between the Red Dog, protecting a foolish young dog, and a tough rival canine gang.

Radio, print and outdoor will support the TV campaign, and the Plank Road division hopes to involve consumers at the retail level as well, said Russ Schleiben, who heads marketing for Red Dog.

Copyright March 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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