Super Bowl

Hot Damn! Bud.TV Finds Its Hit: A Discarded Super Bowl Spot

A-B's Online Network Breaks New Ground Only to Revert to TV Ad

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Anheuser-Busch's online TV network finally has the breakout hit it's been looking for -- a cast-aside Super Bowl commercial.
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'Swear Jar': Once bound for the Big Game, this spot has boosted Bud.TV traffic about 50% since its online debut.



While the 30-second spot is said to be pushing up daisies, the video that's bloomed on the greener pastures of the internet is a classic commercial, "Swear Jar," created by DDB Chicago for Bud Light and once destined for the Big Game. Uploaded to Bud.TV earlier this month, the ad has been downloaded by users onto YouTube, where it's been viewed nearly a million times in two weeks. Better yet, according to Jim Schumacker, A-B's VP-digital marketing, traffic to Bud.TV has risen about 50% since "Swear Jar" hit its virtual airwaves, and registrations are "up considerably."

The surprise is that the hit eagerly awaited for by A-B, which reportedly committed more than $30 million to groundbreaking Bud.TV, isn't the network's original, mostly unbranded programming featuring sports announcer Joe Buck, racecar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hollywood stars Vince Vaughn or Kevin Spacey. Instead, it's a 60-second beer commercial.

Ironic, no?

"Yeah," conceded Mr. Schumacker. "But now we feel like we have a second chance."

Chucklehead positioning
The commercial is a fairly standard execution of the chucklehead positioning Bud Light has strived for since the early 1980s, but was held out of the Super Bowl broadcast due to concerns that its bleeped-out profanity would rankle the ever-more-cautious networks.

The premise: A secretary sets up a swear jar to clean up language around the office, but it backfires into an endless string of bleeped-out workplace exchanges after she lets slip that the proceeds will be used to buy Bud Light.

"Can I borrow your pen?" one employee asks another, inspiring a pained stare and a follow-up request -- "Can I borrow your (bleeping) pen?" -- that's ultimately successful.

When A-B launched Bud.TV with fanfare after February's Super Bowl, it hoped hit videos such as "Swear Jar," spread via YouTube and e-mail, would drive as many as 3 million monthly visitors to the site within a year, but that traffic never materialized.

Downward trajectory
The site had 253,000 visitors in February and fewer than 100,000 in May, according to ComScore Media Metrix. Those declines prompted A-B CEO August Busch IV to tell Wall Street analysts recently that the site would "probably fade" during the second half of 2007, although A-B spokesmen later said Mr. Busch did not mean the site would be shuttered.

A-B executives have repeatedly said the site's early struggles were in part due to its failure to register a breakout hit -- which it now appears to have -- and in part due to relatively aggressive age-verification software to keep away underage visitors.

Mr. Schumacker said A-B has been meeting with YouTube, Yahoo and AOL to develop Bud.TV satellites. The partner sites could employ age verification or rely on the beer industry's traditional standard of advertising only where 70% of the audience is of legal-drinking age.
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