Bud's king Lizard back

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Anheuser-Busch is bringing back Louie the Lizard, but this time the self-absorbed swamp-dweller is aiming his message at a new audience: baby boomers.

Spots breaking this week are product-focused and parody a vintage Bud campaign from more than a decade ago that discussed how to pour beer properly. In one, Louie and straight lizard Frank are required to read a script discussing how to slowly pour the beer down the side of a glass to better release carbonation. At the end, Louie says their rendition "stank," and Frank agrees the pair has sunk to a new low. Other spots showcase the Bud ferret, who continues to need Frank to translate his ferret gibberish into English.

The effort, tested earlier this year in Nashville, Tenn., will run in top 25 markets in the retirement belt from Florida through Southern California, with a media buy targeting audiences over age 40. Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, is the agency.

Targeting an older audience is an unusual concept in an industry spending millions to cultivate mainly 21-to-27-year-old men. The lizards, in fact, have been compared by some with the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s Joe Camel as a means of drawing the young. That issue, along with the runaway success of the Whassup?!? campaign from Omnicom sibling DDB Worldwide, Chicago, had put the lizards out to pasture for about a year. Presumably, the brewer is hoping the older target will help them escape that contention this time around.

Budweiser can use the help. Sales continue to slide despite the award-winning Whassup?! After peaking in 1988 at 50.5 million barrels, volume was down to 34.8 million barrels last year, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. If the current U.S. trends continue, the King of Beers likely will fall to second place behind sibling Bud Light this year-if it's not already happened.

Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewery, continues to plow millions into its brands, last year spending $155.7 million in measured media on Budweiser and another $107.3 million on Bud Light, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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