Bud Light Pairs With Hip-Hop Star Pitbull in New Multicultural TV Campaign

Cuban-American Rapper Appears in Latinworks Effort That Also Features Shazam Tie-in

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Hoping to add some bite to its multicultural advertising, Bud Light is unleashing hip hop star Pitbull in a new TV campaign aimed at tapping into the Cuban-American's rising stardom and crossover appeal.

While the Anheuser-Busch InBev brand has worked with Pitbull before on a limited basis, this is the first time he will appear in TV ads, which come as the brewer faces increased competition from imports and spirit brands for the Hispanic dollar. But the new campaign -- expected to break within two weeks -- is far from a pure Hispanic play. Ads will run on major U.S. broadcast networks, as well as Hispanic TV. The campaign, by Bud Light Hispanic agency LatinWorks, will include also print, digital and retail executions, Mike Sundet, senior director for Bud Light, told Ad Age .

Pitbull "epitomizes everything that our brand is about. He's fun. He's outgoing. He's social," Mr. Sundet said. "Obviously he has huge appeal within the Latino segment, but like Bud Light, he is broadly appealing [with] huge crossover appeal to the general market as well." He added: "We're not even looking at this as a Latino campaign. We're looking at this as a multicultural campaign that is going to reach all of our core drinkers."

The campaign comes as other big changes are afoot for Bud Light under the oversight of Paul Chibe, the brewer's recently installed U.S. VP-marketing. As Ad Age has reported, the brand is conducting an ad agency review for its general market advertising. And Bud Light might be preparing a new line extension for Bud Light called Bud Light Platinum, with a stronger alcohol content by volume ranging from 6% to 8%, according to a report this week by beer trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights, which cited discussion among distributors.

Mr. Sundet declined to comment on the potential new offering.

The new multicultural campaign represents yet another big endorsement score for Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull, a first generation Cuban American whose crossover appeal has made him a favorite among marketers seeking to breakthrough with young, urban consumers. Kodak has used him to sell digital cameras to young users in a campaign that broke last year that also starred Drake and Trey Songz. And Dr Pepper is using him in ad that is getting heavy airplay on English-language TV featuring the song "Vida 23 (Good Times)," which he wrote specifically for the spot and refers to the 23 flavors in the soft drink. (The Dr Pepper campaign is by Hispanic shop Lopez Negrete Communications.)

Pitbull's Bud Light partnership pairs him with one of the biggest ad spenders in the nation: With a $1.4 billion U.S. budget, A-B InBev ranked 22nd among all advertisers in 2010, according to the Ad Age Data Center. The brewer is 16th among top Hispanic advertisers, with Hispanic media spending jumping 31.3% last year to $60.7 million, according to the Ad Age Hispanic Fact Pack. The Bud Light brand tops the U.S. beer market with about 19% share, according to Beer Marketer's.

The new ad, cut in English and Spanish versions, is a music-driven spot featuring the Pitbull song "Bon Bon." Bud Light will urge viewers to use mobile app Shazam, which when held near the ad will direct users to behind-the-scenes footage. The spot plays off the brand's "Here We Go" tagline in which the beer is positioned as a catalyst for good times. "What you'll see in the commercial is that when Pit Bull and Bud Light come together, the good times ramp up," Mr. Sundet said.

Bud Light could use some more good times this year. The brand has long been a leader in the Hispanic market but has lost some ground lately as it faces stiffer competition from imports and spirits brands for the coveted demographic, according to industry observers. "They are having some struggles, particularly in Southern California [and] Arizona -- areas where there's been a lot of Mexican flight back to Mexico, and I think they're under some competitive pressure too," said Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer's Insights.

He cited Crown Imports, owner the Corona brand, which has made headway with new introductions such as Victoria, Mexico's oldest beer brand that Crown brought to the States last year. At the same time, spirits marketers, which have traditionally lagged beer brands with Hispanics, are stepping up spending, including Diageo, which recently made a major upfront buy on Univision Communication's Galavision cable network as well as on every owned and operated Univision station.

"There's definitely a lot of competition out there," Mr. Sundet said. "In order for us to maintain our position as the best-selling beer, we have to continue to offer Latino consumers something they are looking for and that 's about relevant programming connecting ... with their points of passion," including music and soccer.

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