Mr. Timberlake's debut ad for Platinum will run during the 55th
annual Grammy Awards, which will be broadcast on CBS on Sunday. The
partnership comes after the singer released "Suit and Tie," the
first single from his upcoming third third solo album, "The 20/20
Experience," which marks his return to the studio after a six-year
hiatus (during which there was speculation from fans that he might
abandon music in order to focus on acting).
The ad, a 60-second spot dubbed "Platinum Night," will feature
"Suit and Tie."
"Bud Light Platinum brings a refined, discerning aesthetic to
beer that plays well with what I'm doing," said Mr. Timberlake in a
statement. "I'm looking forward to not only being a part of the
creative process, but in bringing other talented musicians to the
forefront as well."
"Justin Timberlake is one of the greatest creative minds in the
entertainment industry, and his insights will help us further
define Bud Light Platinum's identity in the lifestyle space," said
Paul Chibe, VP-U.S. marketing, Anheuser-Busch, in a statement.
"Since launching Bud Light Platinum last year, we've worked to
align the brand closely with music, including leveraging tracks by
Kanye West and Avicii in our first ads. Partnering with Justin as
he makes his return to music brings a new level of relevance and
credibility to the brand."
The move was brokered by Bud Light agency Translation, whose
uber-connected founder Steve Stoute has worked with Mr. Timberlake in the
past, linking the star to McDonald's for its
popular "I'm Loving It" campaign.
Partnering with Mr. Timberlake is part of a broader effort by
A-B InBev to infuse more music in its marketing under the
leadership of Mr. Chibe. Last year the brewer paired Budweiser with
rapper Jay-Z, who curated and headlined a summer music festival in
Philadelphia called "Made In America." The music mogul appeared in
Bud ads related to the event, which is being made into a film by
Hollywood heavy hitters Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.
(Jay-Z is an investor in Translation, which was founded by Mr.
Stoute, a former record exec.)
Bud Light's Super Bowl ads this year featured Stevie Wonder,
while the brand's multicultural spots by LatinWorks have
spotlighted Cuban-American hip-hop artist Pitbull. Still, the most
successful of A-B InBev's Super Bowl spots this year, according to
various ad scoring systems, was more of an old-school play plugging
Budweiser with the brewer's iconic Clydesdales, which returned to
center stage after playing more of a supporting role in recent
years. (The soundtrack for that ad was the Fleetwood Mac classic
But in an age where millennial consumers are increasingly
determining the fate of big alcohol brands, the brewer seems
determined to lend some urban, hipster cache to its brews with line
extensions such as Budweiser Black Crown, which just hit stores,
and Platinum. Both of the new beers have 6% alcohol by volume,
compared with 4.2% for regular Bud Light and 5% for Budweiser.
Platinum, in particular, has a musical focus. The brand was
launched in 2012 with a Super Bowl ad featuring the Kanye West song
"Runaway." And Platinum's Twitter feed routinely links to style and
music news, such as a recent tweet alerting fans to a remix of a
The early returns are good, with Platinum recognized by neutral
observers as a highly successful beer launch. Platinum already
ranks as the 14th-largest beer brand in the U.S. with $387 million
in sales at stores in the 52 weeks ending Dec. 30, according to
But for big beer debuts, year two is always critical, as the
newness buzz fades and marketers rely more on repeat purchases. The
signing of Mr. Timberlake signals that A-B InBev plans to continue
to pour big marketing bucks into the brand, even as it dedicates
resources to Budweiser Black Crown, which got two Super Bowl ads.
(From January through November of last year, the brewer spent $32.1
million in measured media on Platinum, according to Kantar
The Timberlake deal comes as the singer continues to tighten his
bond with marketers of all stripes. He is an investor in Specific
Media, which bought MySpace from News Corp. in 2011. (Notably, Bud Light
tapped MySpace this year as a digital partner for its "Bud
Light Hotel" music event in New Orleans during the Super Bowl.)
In 2011, Mr. Timberlake was named a creative director at Callaway Golf. His booze
experience includes launching his own tequila brand, 901 Silver. Years ago he even appeared in a
responsibility ad for Budweiser when he was with 'N Sync that can
still be found on YouTube.
In making a big music play, A-B InBev is following a path taken
by big soda brands. For instance, one of Coca-Cola's long-term
goals has been increasing younger fans, as part of which its
launched a multi-year music-themed campaign. It also comes as the
Diet Coke brand named Taylor Swift as a celebrity spokesperson and
marketing partner -- widely seen as Coca-Cola's response to Beyonce
being named brand ambassador for Pepsi.