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Light House.jpgMore on Anheuser-Busch's 2010 Super Bowl advertising strategy. A-B marketing honcho Keith Levy confirmed Tuesday that DDB/Chicago, the longtime lead Bud Light agency on the A-B roster, will have no Bud Light spots in the big game this year. All of the Bud Light work comes from Cannonball/St. Louis, as first revealed here on Monday.

A Michelob Ultra ad featuring Lance Armstrong comes from Palm Havas/Chicago and a spot for a new A-B brand Select 55 was done by Momentum in St. Louis. DDB/Chicago did just barely manage to stay in A-B's Super Bowl ad mix with two Budweiser spots out of the total of nine spots A-B will air during the game.

Levy said DDB lost out on Bud Light for the simple reason that the work it submitted did not test well in focus groups used to determine which commercials would fill the five minutes of air time A-B has reserved this year during the Super Bowl, up from four-and-a-half minutes a year ago. Levy emphasized that all decisions regarding which work would run during the 2010 Super Bowl were based on how well the work fared during the focus group research -- something A-B has traditionally relied on to ensure its commercials score well in USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter competition.

The research results also explain, per Levy, why Super Bowl viewers will see no iconic Clydesdale horses or dalmatian dogs in this year's A-B Super Bowl work. Levy said at least one spot with the Clydesdales was tested, but it did not do as well as other work that was more comedic and less iconic. Indeed, Levy said viewers will notice an emphasis on lighthearted work this year because he believes -- given the tough times the country has experienced recently -- that viewers want to laugh more while they are building an emotional connection with A-B brands.

A-B's first spot out of the gate after the kickoff to start the Super Bowl is expected to be "Light House," about a cool dude and his house made of Bud Light cans. Another Bud Light spot is about an asteroid that could cause catastrophic destruction. Yet another Bud Light spot will remind viewers of the popular TV show "Lost."

One of DDB's Budweiser brand spots shows how some industrious people help a stranded Budweiser truck make it into town. Levy said Lance Armstrong will be used extensively to promote Michelob Ultra in the months to come.

Picture 1.jpgLate this afternoon, Anheuser-Busch released a tentative line-up of its 2010 Super Bowl advertising to the media, and there are a few surprises mixed in among the nine spots.

First, and perhaps most surprisingly, at least one source is reporting that DDB/Chicago, long linked at the hip with A-B's best-selling Bud Light brand, is not responsible for any of the five Bud Light spots tentatively slated to air during the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. On Monday, an A-B spokesman would not discuss which agency did which commercials, but Cannonball in St. Louis is believed to have done most if not all of the Bud Light work, which carries a new tag line "Here we go." The idea seems to be to connect Bud Light with fun times, not exactly a new theme for the brand. The "drinkability" theme, pushed hard in several recent Bud Light campaigns, is not being promoted in this 2010 Super Bowl line-up.

Also missing in action in the two Budweiser brand commercials, believed to be the handiwork of DDB, are the iconic Clydesdales and the dalmatian dog that have been featured in recent years -- often in heartwarming vignettes intended to provide an alternative to the frat house humor in the Bud Light work. There are dogs in the two Budweiser commercials, but not a dalmatian.

Certainly, the Bud Light work expected to appear on the Super Bowl still feels like it is aimed at the frat house, but the commercials have a different rhythm and a softer kind of humor overall than was apparent in the early and best Bud Light work from DDB/Chicago when the format was still fresh and before the material descended to the level of farting horses and crotch-biting dogs.

Will any of the work in this A-B line-up prove good enough to top the Ad Meter competition? The answer to that depends on how stiff the competition is this year. Some of the advertisers that previously have been contenders in the Ad Meter competition are sitting on the sidelines this year. And in recent years, a lot of the Super Bowl of Advertising work has been little better than that seen during an evening of typical prime time programming. Which is another way of saying "not very good."

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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