Free beer. That grabs people's attention. And Anheuser-Busch hopes that free beer — plus a massive advertising push — will grab some new drinkers for its sagging flagship brand Budweiser.
The brewer announced Wednesday plans for a "national happy hour" on Sept. 29 to distribute free samples of Budweiser at bars and restaurants. Details of the availability of the free beer — 6 to 12 ounce samples, depending on local and state rules — were still being hammered out.
A-B also will launch a new Budweiser ad campaign with the slogan, "Grab some Buds." Beginning Saturday and continuing through Oct. 3, 90 percent of A-B's advertising will focus on Budweiser, more than doubling the brand's typical exposure and making Budweiser hard to miss.
The goal is to revive a brand that saw its U.S. market share peak in 1988, at 26 percent. By last year, it had declined to 9.3 percent.
People are also reading…
A-B's biggest challenge is convincing young drinkers — those in their mid-20s — to even try a brand known as the King of Beers. A company study found four of 10 drinkers ages 21 to 27 had never even sipped Budweiser.
"We want to close that gap," A-B President Dave Peacock said.
The brewer hopes to eventually hand out 500,000 samples of Budweiser.
Last month, Peacock announced plans to "draw a line in the sand" and turn around Budweiser. The free beer and ad campaign are the first outward signs of how the company plans to do that.
Peacock has talked previously about his belief that Budweiser can compete for the hip, young customers now drinking smaller craft brews.
He said Budweiser, with a colorful heritage dating to 1876, has a story just as compelling as brews with off-beat names and claims of artisan-brewing methods. Budweiser is also turning to Facebook to connect with drinkers.
One of the new television ads, called "Great Times," does not rely on laughs — or words, for that matter — to make its case. It features a series of shots of people getting ready to go out — a concert, a barbecue, a ball game — and how Budweiser fits into that mission.