Grey day

Anheuser-Busch is looking outside its regular stable of agencies in an effort to help develop new products to offset its flat sales for Budweiser and Bud Dry. Sources said that Grey Advertising/ N.Y. may have gained a footing on the roster by winning one of these lines.
The A-B win was one of two at Grey which came to light last week. Separately, Ian Vale, senior vp/marketing and strategic planning, United Distillers North America confirmed that Grey has been named agency of record for its estimated $40-million media-only print account, beating out Leo Burnett Co./Chicago, and two media buying services: SFM Media and DeWitt Media, both New York. Burnett will continue to do the planning for its four brands, Dewar’s, Old Charter, W.L. Weller and George Dickel, as well as buying for outdoor.
Grey, sources said, is working on A-B’s much rumored champagne-colored product that may or may not ever see the light of day. If it goes through, the product would probably be the brewery’s answer to new clear products from Coors and Miller Brewing Co., which have shown to pique the interest of potential new beer consumers.
The client would not comment on the specific assignment but said, “Grey Advertising has and continues to work on special projects for Anheuser-Busch .” Grey referred calls to A-B.
The new product from A-B is one of a number of things it has been working on for the past 18 months in an effort to find a way to rebuild its customer base. A-B’s two other agencies, DDB Needham Chicago and D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles/St. Louis are also said to be working on new product assignments that one insider characterized as being in the “initial stages,” (ADWEEK, June, 7). DDB Needham may be working on a cold filtered draft product for Bud, and DMB& B is said to be working on a European-style beer, although neither of those could be confirmed.
Coors, Zima Clearmalt product and Miller Clear both in test markets now, have sparked interest at A-B, insiders said. A Miller source noted that most of Miller Clear’s distribution in test markets came at the expense of Bud products.
It is not the first time that A-B has moved beyond its mainstay shops. It worked with Hal Riney & Partners/ S.F in the late 1980s, and invited BBDO N.Y. and Chiat Day, N.Y. to a 1991 pitch for the Michelob brands.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)