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IT LOOKS LIKE ANHEUSER-BUSCH HAS COME OUT OF THE old and into the retro cool with its posters for American Originals, three 19th century beer revivals now in test market. "We tried to take in the personality of the period," says art director Dan Hardie of Heater/Easdon, Boston, explaining how the posters, illustrated by Vince McIndoe, retain the style, colors and hand-rendered type from metro posters of the era.

The agency also created the campaign with the idea "that we were advertising the product in 1890 when the product was still around," adds co-CD Don Easdon, explaining why they went with posters and newspaper inserts and haven't veered into commercials yet.

The ads mark the culmination of a year of development in updating some of the robust beers that A-B founder Adolphus Busch cooked up in the late 1800s, explains Easdon. Many of the recipes, such as Faust, an all-malt lager, Muenchener Amber and Black & Tan Porter, were discontinued after Prohibition, he says, when home brewing changed drinkers' tastes to sweeter, lighter beers. But the recent popularity of microbrews has prompted A-B to mine its archives, dusting off and adapting original labels and recipes for the contemporary palate.

"One thing that we had to be careful about was not manufacturing history," cautions co-CD Bill Heater. "We wanted something that used the heritage of the past, but was relevant in the present."

Credit also writer Tim Brunelle and print producer Laurie Johnson.

Heater/Easdon revives another classic in three TV spots for Busch N/A that are takeoffs of the famous "Monty Python" lumberjack skit. Directed by Joe Pytka, and created by Heater and Easdon, the commercials show husky lumberjacks singing lustily to banjo tunes about how they love the nonalcoholic brew that doesn't cut into their logging performance. "We're lumberjacks!" they chant in unison in one spot. "We're sawing away! We're working hard, drinking Busch N/A!" A husky fellow cuddles a raccoon, while gritty woodsmen arm wrestle or juggle lunch pails.

The out-there approach was a way of gaining attention after the beer's rather flat launch, Easdon explains. "How can we create a rowdy, athletic, good-guy image for Busch N/A, which, like most nonalcoholic beers, is seen as kind of a wimp drink?" Heater asks rhetorically. And while Easdon admits the Python skit inspired them, he adds, the spot found its voice with the catchy Broadway-style music composed by Minneapolis' Randall Davidson. "We had guys juggling chain saws and axes," Heater adds, "but the networks wouldn't let us run them. It was really meant to feel like a rugby party in the woods."

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