A-B Keeps Its Lizards

Bud Heroes Surviving Mounting Criticism
SAN FRANCISCO–Anheuser-Busch is strengthening its commitment to Budweiser lizards Louie and Frank despite mounting criticism from children’s advocacy groups. The brewer has asked Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to create a new campaign featuring the scaly brand heroes to break during the Super Bowl in January, said sources.
Sources said Goodby here has already produced a spoof of A-B’s heritage campaign, created by lead shop DDB Needham in Chicago. That work stars Busch family members talking warmly about Budweiser’s history.
Goodby’s new spot features Louie trumpeting his family’s history in the swamp, and offering up tidbits such as, “My father was a gnatcatcher,” said sources. The spot was finished weeks ago and was initially set to break before Thanksgiving. “A-B’s top management loves this Louie spot, but there’s a good chance it won’t see the light of day until January,” said one source, who added that A-B has about 10 units to fill during the big game.
Sources said the St. Louis brewer had considered dropping the entire campaign concept earlier this year in response to criticism that the lizards appeal too strongly to children. A-B has said it would not abandon the lizards, although it did give Louie “reduced prime-time weight” in the summer [Adweek, May 25].
A-B has sporadically aired spots showing Louie’s earnest attempts to take over for the injured “weis” of the “Bud-weis-er” frogs. The lizards have received prominent play in recent radio and outdoor efforts.
Goodby in San Francisco referred queries to A-B, which did not return calls by press time.
A-B spent about $195 million on ads for all its brands through July of this year, 50 percent more than the first half of 1997, per Competitive Media Reporting.
–with Trevor Jensen