A-B Mulls ‘Stick With Beer’

NEW YORK Anheuser-Busch is mulling the launch of some potentially controversial ads that tout beer over liquor as an alcoholic beverage of choice as part of its “Here’s to beer” campaign.

The brewer has commissioned two spots that play up the regret factor of a one-night stand following an evening of consuming too many shots and cocktails, said Bob Lachky, A-B’s evp of global industry and development and chief creative officer.

One version shows the point of view of a guy coming to, in the abode of a “cat lady.” She greets him by saying, “We missed our brand-new boyfriend.” Then she goes about her bedroom, occupied by felines in costumes, and tries to figure out which ones will take part in her fantasy wedding.

In the spot from the woman’s perspective, she wakes up in “Darrellville”—the bedroom of a hairy-chested man in a robe who invites her to “come here and nibble me.”

Both spots conclude with screen text: “Minimize the surprise. Stick with beer.”

Lachky acknowledged that the message is risky and has the potential to offend anti-alcohol activists and stir a hornet’s nest within the liquor industry.

The effort should not be viewed as a unilateral attack on the liquor industry. It would be a part of A-B’s two-year-old “Here’s to beer” initiative. Celebrity chefs are cooking with it, Gallup polls have dubbed beer America’s favorite alcohol drink again, and the rate of growth for liquor sales has slowed a bit.

“We can’t take the credit, but it is a coincidence since we gave some bounce to beer again, and beer is coming back,” said Lachky.

The liquor industry’s chief trade association—the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.—has countered beer’s moderation message with Web postings and literature urging “Moderation in all things. It’s not what you drink but how much you drink that counts.”

A-B’s potentially controversial ads are not being prepared for launch. Lachky showed the work to wholesalers but they haven’t decided if the ads will be released.

“We’re still trying to figure if we should use it, but that is the insight that got us going, and we have it ready if we need it,” said Lachky.