A-B Goes Grassroots in All-American ‘Anthem’

CHICAGO Anheuser-Busch is about to debut folksy TV ads in its bid to be more local by loosening compliance standards for its wholesaler network, giving distributors more flexibility to be entrepreneurs.

“Anthem,” a new spot from Omnicom Group’s DDB Chicago, debuts today on budweiser.com before airing during kickoff telecasts of the National Football League season.

The creative features everyday Americans—farmers, police officers, tailgaters before a football game, friends playing softball—and song lyrics: “This is who I am, this is where I’m from; This is what I believe in when the day is done; This is Budweiser, this is beer.” Images also include a shot of Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Statue of Liberty.

“So much of what we believe in—[from] sponsoring local bands and sports teams, to hosting welcome-home parties for military returning from duty overseas, to supporting outdoors conservation programs—has made Budweiser what it is today: America’s favorite premium lager,” Randall Blackford, director of Bud marketing, said in a statement. “As part of its refined brand positioning, Budweiser’s “Anthem” ad seeks to identify more closely with the beer’s core consumer group.”

The spot and the song will receive heavy play on TV and radio during September and throughout the fall. Additional TV spots paying tribute to groups of adult Americans will roll through this year and into 2006.

A-B executives had said during past wholesaler gatherings that distributors needed to adopt an incremental growth perspective with new products rather than always looking for the big market share home run. The brewer also encouraged wholesalers to lead more grassroots initiatives.

Chairman August Busch III reiterated the street marketing push during a recent conference in Orlando, Fla., and assured distributors that they would be less encumbered by equity contract reporting exercises so they can spend more time selling beer.

“[A-B executives] are saying we have to be open and flexible for whatever comes down the pike because the marketing of the future will be niche marketing,” said a Southern wholesaler.