IQ News: Anheuser-Busch Puts Online Ad Budget in the Hopper




-Hey, Internet, This Bud’s For You!
Anheuser-Busch, a company that spent $285 million in 1996 to advertise its beer brands, is finally adding the Internet to its media war chest in 1998. As it assembles its media plans for next year, A-B has earmarked a preliminary figure for buying online media. The proposed dollars would be specifically intended for online advertising. While the amount itself has yet to be approved, the move marks the first time the brewer has ever identified a line item for “online advertising possibilities,” said Bob Macauley, A-B’s senior manager for entertainment and interactive marketing.
“It’s not an amount of money that will cause the whole industry to jump up and down,” Macauley said. “But it is an indication that we see [the Internet] as a viable medium.” He declined to specify how much A-B might earmark for buying online media.
Even if the eventual allocation is small, the recognition by A-B that the Internet bears further marketing attention could signal a milestone for the online efforts of the major brewers. A-B, Miller and Coors were all early adapters in terms of building Web sites: Coors launched a site for clear malt beverage Zima in 1994; Miller and Budweiser soon followed with their own areas targeting young adults. However, as other ad categories started to buy banners and other online media, most of the major brewers’ online budgets remained devoted to site construction and maintenance, with very little dedicated to online media buys.
A-B made a handful of banner buys this year to promote certain brands and brand sites. For example, it purchased banners on www.nhl.com and www.hockeynews.com to promote a hockey trivia game on www.budice.com that coincided with the professional hockey league’s All Star Game in January.
The company also placed an interstitial campaign for www.budweiser.com on the popular online game show, “You Don’t Know Jack,” which runs the commercial-like ads while players wait for the game to download. Those dollars came from surpluses in non-online budgets, Macauley said. It also got the equivalent of free media space on www.pga.com for Michelob and on Lycos for Budweiser.
Likely investments next year would include banners (and probably more interstitials) and sponsorships that “focus on areas that are key to the Bud demographic,” said Macauley, referring to the core 20-something crowd. More specifically, buys would probably be “on sports areas, music and entertainment” sites, he added.
As with traditional media, buying has been handled by Busch Media. Think New Ideas, New York, one of the shops in Omnicom’s Communicade new media division, is responsible for online creative on the A-B brands.