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Friday, January 26, 2007

Super Bowl Blitz: Anheuser-Busch Unleashes $26 Million Ad Buy

I'm not sure what type of defensive schemes the teams from Indianapolis or Chicago have planned for the Super Bowl, but on Feb. 4th the team from St. Louis plans an all out blitz during the game. Anheuser-Busch is the single largest advertiser in Super Bowl XLI, having purchased a total of five minutes of the most expensive advertising real estate on the planet.

Thirty seconds of time on the CBS broadcast of the game between the Colts and the Bears went for a record $2.6 million. Spots in the game have sold out. It is a coveted place for advertisers because in an age of cable network proliferation that has diluted television audience numbers and encroachment on traditional media by everything from the Internet to satellite radio, the big game still delivers. An audience of 90 million is expected to watch the game in the U.S. It is annually the most watched television program in this country.

Anheuser-Busch will use the game to push its Budweiser, Bud Light and Bud Select brands. They are pulling out the big guns in terms of creative from several advertising agencies. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carlos Mencia, Jay-Z, Don Shula and the Clydesdales will star in various spots.

Anheuser-Busch has been a Super Bowl advertiser since 1976. In 1989 they became the exclusive alcoholic beverage sponsor of the game and have that title locked down until at least 2012. This in spite of the fact that Coors Light is the official beer of the National Football League.

Bob Lachky, chief creative officer at Anheuser-Busch, is said to still be tinkering with the line-up of spots that will be used and agencies are making final edits to some spots scheduled to be aired. Focus group testing is still being analyzed as the brewer works to make sure each spot delivers on the major investment. Lachky and the marketing team in St. Louis do not lack for options. It is estimated that they start with between 80-100 finished commercial scripts in late summer and begin winnowing down the list to get to the final selections.

In addition to the 30-second spots, the company will run four 10-second billboards during the game. Two will promote responsible consumption and two will push the new Bud.TV web entertainment channel that launches the day after the game. The company also plans after each spot to text message a group of cellular phone carrying consumers who sign up at the company's website prior to the game to get their reaction to the just-aired commercials.

No matter the winner of the game on the field, Lachky and company plan to try to run up the score before the key beer selling season even gets off the ground.

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