TROUBLED PABST MAKES $7 MIL RETURN TO TV ADS;FLAGSHIP BLUE RIBBON WILL RECEIVE BULK OF SPENDING

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Pabst Brewing Co. is preparing its first TV advertising in more than five years to help turn around the beer marketer's downward-bound sales.

The estimated $7 million regional network and spot TV campaign is expected to break in July.

The advertising will consist of "one or two teasers in major key areas" and at least two more traditional spots, said Darryl Asher, senior VP at Los Angeles agency Asher/Gould. New radio and outdoor ads will support.

Flagship brand Pabst Blue Ribbon will get an estimated $4.5 million of that budget, a Midwest sales manager said, with the rest going to Pabst Genuine Draft Light beer and Olde English "800" malt liquor.

Blue Ribbon's new theme is "Get real. Get Pabst." Pabst Genuine Draft Light ads will be themed "The best light beer in America," Mr. Asher said, referring to its gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 1994 and '95.

TARGETING `HEAVY' CONSUMERS

For Blue Ribbon, "We're going after heavy beer consumers between 21 and 34," Mr. Asher said. "Our target's been going a little bit younger the last few years. And Pabst is making a resurgence-a lot of consumers are going way back to familiar brands."

The spending represents a huge surge for the brewer. Blue Ribbon's 1996 ad spending leaps dramatically from $700,000 spent last year-down from $1.4 million in 1994 and $5.9 million in '92, PaineWebber figures show.

The campaign hopes to start a rebound for the brand. Blue Ribbon's market share continued to lose ground last year, slipping to 0.8% from 0.9% in 1994, according to industry newsletter .

For 1995, Blue Ribbon volume fell almost 12% to 1.5 million barrels, Impact says. Olde English "800" fared slightly better, with market share holding steady in 1995 as volume slipped almost 5% to 2 million barrels.

10% PLUNGE

Pabst Brewing's total volume plunged to 1.375 million barrels for the first quarter of '96, down almost 10% from a year ago, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

Pabst began an Olde English "800" campaign this month with a "guerrilla" outdoor campaign using murals and posters targeting African-American consumers in 16 urban markets, said Christy Shields, senior media planner.

Pabst Brewing plans this week to sign an undisclosed "major national rap group" to endorse Olde English "800," Mr. Asher said, and to record two radio spots for the brand.

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