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A new regional TV campaign for Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light takes what could be a risky tack for a mainline brand, but it could pay off on a national scale.

The campaign, set to break April 22 in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is a departure from national advertising now running for Bud Light, created by DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago. DDB Needham's New York office has completed six to eight spots featuring the voices and humor of the Jerky Boys, among the most profane-and twisted-comedians around. Two of the spots generated strong positive responses when shown last month at a national wholesalers meeting in New Orleans.


"It's definitely cutting edge, and it gets your attention, but it isn't distasteful," said a sales manager in New Jersey. "The sooner it goes on the air, the better."

He said Bud Light's nationwide "I love you, man" ads, while successful and popular, are losing their freshness.

"I like to see changes in ad campaigns, to keep them fresh, humorous and relevant," he said.

An A-B sales manager in southern California said he also liked the Jerky Boys spots, calling them "hard-hitting," and said they drummed up enthusiasm among distributors nationally.

A-B declined to comment on whether the spots will go national. The campaign, themed "Bud Light I said," features candid reactions as the Jerky Boys harass unwitting real-life victims, said those who've seen the ads. In one spot, a woman at a drive-through fast-food speaker is asked by the voice at the other end to go buy him some beer. In another, a German tourist's cab is suddenly ordered to pick up a six-pack of Bud Light by a radio dispatcher.


The regional effort is intended to fend off Coors Brewing Co.'s strong sales of Coors Light in the Northeast.

Nationally, Bud Light enjoyed a strong 1995, building market share to 9.7% from 8.7% in '94, while Coors Light's share rose to 6.8% from 6.7%, according to industry newsletter Impact.

Bud Light's trouble spots include the state of New York, where Coors Light is the leading light beer, and southern California, where Coors Light sales rose 5.2% in 1995, according to Beer Mar.

The Bud Light advertising marks the Jerky Boys' debut as endorsers. The Jerky Boys-a.k.a. John Brennan and Kamal Ahmed-circulated for years on pirated cassettes before cutting two albums on WEA imprint Select Records, and making Touchstone Pictures' flop "The Jerky Boys: The Movie" last year.

The pair have sold about 2.5 million records, said Fred Munao, Select's president. A third album is slated for release this year, he said.

The campaign is part of the $350 million A-B will spend in 1996 to advertise the Budweiser and Michelob lines.


A-B also has two other regional Bud Light campaigns on the docket. Three surf-and-sand spots by DDB Needham in Chicago, themed "Left coast, right beer," will be aimed at California consumers, and five new executions in the "Make it a Bud Light, Texas" campaign by the agency's Dallas office will follow a spot that broke in February (AA, Feb. 26).

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