Would Document Creation of Super Bowl Anheuser-Busch Ads

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CHICAGO -- Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, is exploring a reality TV show that would offer viewers a behind-the-scenes look at agencies as they create Budweiser ads for the Super Bowl.
The reality show would promote DDB as well as Anheuser-Busch products.

The show would follow one or more agencies, DDB presumably among them, in a race against the clock to create ads for Anheuser-Busch for the 2006 Super Bowl, according to people familiar with the matter. The series would lead up to the big game.

Internal discussions

The concept has been discussed internally in recent months, but is still in early stages. The agency has approached networks and production houses about the idea, the people said.

An A-B spokesman, however, denied any involvement in the show. "Anheuser-Busch is not involved in this reality show or in the concept," a spokesman said. DDB referred questions to the brewer.

The move comes as agencies and marketers explore branded entertainment as a means to get consumer products in front of audiences in an increasingly fragmented media market. The Apprentice has taken the concept up a notch as it brings cameras behind the scenes of corporate America's marketers from PepsiCo to Mattel.

Popular ads

A-B historically holds a "jump ball" among its roster shops to create spots -- which would be good for drama -- and its ads are usually among the most popular during the big game. A-B got a lot of bad publicity during the last Super Bowl, however, when it ran a spot featuring a flatulent horse.

Such a program would fit in with A-B and DDB's other efforts in branded entertainment. DDB has created several short films for Budweiser that appeared on the Internet and Viacom's Comedy Central. It also has worked with A-B and various production companies to try and translate its popular "Real Men of Genius" campaign to a network program format.

Rivals' entertainment projects

A-B's competitors have also been involved in branded entertainment. Archrival Miller Brewing Co., part of SABMiller, has created a short film for ESPN. And Coors Brewing was a sponsor of another reality series, The Restaurant.

Audiences clearly like A-B's beers, as Bud Light and Bud are the No. 1 and 2 beers in the country. And they also are interested in advertising -- although no one cares about it as much as its practitioners. Ad execs have been staples of popular culture, from Bewitched through Desperate Housewives.

Still, as with all TV shows, the concept can be intriguing, but the execution has to make it sing. Robert Thompson, head of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television, said he's not sure that a show about creating Super Bowl spots would be compelling enough to draw viewers.

"An awful lot of the creative process isn't that visual," Mr. Thompson said. "How long can you watch hip young ad executives play Nerf ball in a hip ad agency office?"

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T.L. Stanely contributed to this report.
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