Bud Light Steals A-B's Ad Thunder at Super Bowl

Top Seller Gets Seven of Nine Spots -- an Estimated $18 Million of Brewer's Buy

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Anheuser-Busch plans to devote at least seven of its nine Super Bowl spots to Bud Light -- believed to be the most ads ever placed behind a single brand in the big game.

A-B Super Bowl spot 2007
A-B Super Bowl spot 2007

2007: Some of Bud Light's Super Bowl ads from last year.

In the past, the king of beers typically has used multiple spots in the telecast to push Budweiser and has frequently worked smaller brands such as Budweiser Select and Michelob into the game as well. But this year, despite a brand portfolio that has added dozens of import, craft and specialty brands, the brewer is allocating an estimated $18 million of its Bowl buy to its top seller.

Executives familiar with the situation said A-B is likely to include one 60-second Budweiser spot featuring the brand's traditional Clydesdale mascots and is also weighing a responsible-drinking ad. But the bulk of the lineup is expected to feature the now-familiar formula spots showing men, women or animals going to humorous -- some might say sophomoric -- lengths to drink Bud Light.

Multiple shops
Bud Light's primary agency, DDB, Chicago, is expected to produce the majority of A-B's ads this year, but spots from roster shops Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco; Cannonball, St. Louis; and Latinworks, Austin, Texas, also are said to be in consideration as the brewer's executives, led by Exec VP-Global Industry Development Bob Lachky, crisscross the country in their annual tour of focus groups leading up to the game.

An A-B spokesman declined to comment on the brewer's Super Bowl ad lineup, which it is expected to be unveiled later this week. But the company made it clear in recent months that it intends to remedy what it saw as a lack of focus on its largest brands last year, when sales of its core brands declined slightly and Bud Light's growth slowed as sales of rivals Coors Light and Miller Lite picked up.

Last year, Budweiser received two spots: a 60-second ad starring the Clydesdales and a 30-second spot starring Bud-swiping sand crabs. Bud Select received one late-game spot starring hip-hop star Jay-Z and football coach Don Shula that ad executives later conceded likely was overshadowed by the eight A-B beer ads that preceded it.

Narrow targeting
While brand Bud will not get as much Super Bowl exposure as it has enjoyed in the past, a DDB campaign emphasizing its quality, scale and heritage, starring "Daily Show" correspondent Rob Riggle, has been airing in heavy rotation on sporting events. Spending also has ticked up for the Michelob family, which is getting a significant print and TV push in ads from Euro RSCG, Chicago, intended to position the brand as a craft beer similar to Sam Adams Boston Lager or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Exec VP-Global Industry Development Bob Lachky
Exec VP-Global Industry Development Bob Lachky

Bud Select is now being more narrowly targeted in the handful of urban markets where it's gained traction since its 2005 launch. And the marketer is relying heavily on print, online, outdoor and radio to sell smaller-scale brands such as Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Rolling Rock.

Bud Light received $113 million of A-B's $350 million measured media outlay during the first nine months of 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
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