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A-B Shows Off Its Super Bowl Creative

Plenty of Laughs -- and Animals -- in Brewer's Nine Spots

By Published on .

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Anheuser-Busch has unveiled its Super Bowl spot lineup, a $25 million-plus dog and Clydesdale show that also includes crabs, apes and a few celebrities this year.

The most airtime
With five minutes of airtime, A-B is the largest Super Bowl advertiser, and it's investing all nine of its spots in its Bud-family brands -- Budweiser, Bud Light and Budweiser Select. The brewer will also promote its online television network, Bud.tv, with on-screen billboards promoting the site's post-game launch.

The biggest beneficiary of A-B's largess will be flagship brand Bud Light, which is drawing six of the nine spots -- and all three first-quarter efforts -- in an attempt to maintain its considerable momentum.

Bud Light led all domestic light beers by growing shipments 4% during 2006, according to a Beer Marketer's Insights estimate; rival Miller Lite saw shipments decline 0.6% last year. (The No. 3 U.S. light beer, Coors Light, saw shipments jump 1.5%.)

Dumb, dubious, deranged
Most of the Bud Light ads riff on the brand's familiar theme of drinkers doing dumb, dubious our deranged things in order to get a Bud Light. One spot (done by DDB Chicago) appearing in the third quarter of the game shows a married couple debating whether they should pick up a beer-toting hitchhiker with an ax.

"He has an ax," warns the wife, prompting her husband's counter-protest: "But he has Bud Light."

DDB's other Bud Light efforts feature a wedding ceremony and a rock-paper-scissors game.

Another Bud Light spot comes from LatinWorks, Austin, Texas, and features comedian Carlos Mencia in a professorial role, teaching a classroom full of immigrants how to order Bud Light in different regional accents. The Bud Light effort from boutique shop Mortar, Chicago, offers a vision of great apes' bumbling attempt to steal Bud Light (third quarter).

A tougher task
A-B's efforts on behalf of its Budweiser and Bud Select brands have a tougher task than the Bud Light efforts: They need to reverse or slow plummeting sales.

Budweiser, which saw shipments slide 5.8% during 2006, gets the brewer's only 60-second effort. The second-quarter epic, by DDB Chicago, shows how a ride atop the Clydesdales hitch gives a demoralized puppy some glory. A second Bud ad from DDB, set for the fourth quarter, features Bud-stealing sand crabs, set on an idyllic beach setting that, intentionally or not, evokes images of the No. 1 import beer, Corona Extra, whose market position A-B has been targeting with smaller brands.

Budweiser Select sales fell by double digits last year, according to most distributor accounts, and the luxury-light brand is receiving A-B's final fourth-quarter spot. The ad, by Cannonball, St. Louis, shows the beer's co-brand director, rapper Jay-Z, taking part in a chess-like futuristic football game against former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.
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