Q&A: A-B’s Keith Levy

Keith Levy, vp of marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev, describes Budweiser’s new “Grab some Buds” campaign from Anomaly as a “beginning of a journey. We’re not looking for the brand to turn around tomorrow. We are looking to begin that stabilization process and this is part of that.”

The first work from the brewer’s newest roster shop features TV spots as well as radio, outdoor and print ads. In addition, the client will distribute some 500,000 free samples in the next two weeks, with the primary goal of winning over 21- to 27-year-olds who have never tried the brand.

Levy, who assumed his role as head of U.S marketing in 2008, discussed the campaign with senior reporter Andrew McMains.

Adweek: What did your research tell you about this approach?
Keith Levy: One thing we found out from this campaign, which is called “Anticipation,” is that it endears itself to what we call our Budweiser loyalists but also it gives cause for younger consumers to give it a different look. . . . It’s all around the moment of anticipation. If you think about anticipation, it’s one of those things that — young or old — you look forward to what will come next . . . Whether it’s people that are going out just to enjoy a backyard barbeque or if you’re going out on a first date, it’s anticipation of what that day or that evening could bring. That’s what we’re trying to really convey with the imagery. If you think about the tagline — “Grab some Buds” — it talks about grabbing your friends and grabbing a beer as part of that good time. So, we like the way that came together.

How would you describe the work stylistically?
It’s very visual. . . A lot of the Budweiser work, even if you go back over the years, has been fairly copy intensive. There’s not one spoken word in the campaign. So, what you’re going to have is a lot of beautiful visuals, camera angles and great music, which sort of builds as the spot builds in that feeling of anticipation and pays off with a fairly big crescendo. Again, [it’s this feeling of this culmination of a great day or a great night [that’s] about to happen because your friends and Budweiser surround you. 

Compared to last year’s “It’s what we do” campaign, from DDB, are you trying to shift to a more emotional space?
Yeah, very emotional, very emotional. It’s a little different than what people are used to in terms of traditional beer advertising. You’re a brand that stood the test of time, you’re iconic, some might say, but you want people to look at it in a different light. I think this does exactly that, which is what we’re counting on. And we’re counting on it to appeal to people on a different level.

How and when did you first connect with Anomaly?
As we were going through the summer time, we were looking at a lot of different work for Budweiser, as is past practice with a lot of our brands, we do invite other agencies in to pitch. Anomaly was one those agencies this time and came forward with some really great insight about the brand.

Did you or colleagues know Anomaly from another context? I’m curious what led them to your door.
We’ve been familiar with Anomaly and have been looking at lots of different agencies over time. We’ve had both internal people at A-B, as well as global, that are familiar with Anomaly and decided to give them an opportunity to pitch.