Anheuser-Busch looks to test a new filtered draft brand

Anheuser-Busch, facing what could be another tough summer beer-selling season, may test a cold-filtered draft beer under the Bud name before the end of the year.

The product could appear in selected markets as early as this fall, according to one brewing industry source, although where and when could not be confirmed. If a draft brand does make it to the market, it would be the fourth product in the Bud family of beers, and signal that A-B's three-year-old Bud Dry brand hasn't reached the expected potential.

Budweiser shipments slipped 3.1% in 1992, after slipping 6.3% in 1991 according to Impact. Bud Dry shipments fell 12.5% in 1991 and another 14.3% in 1992. Coming on Strong, however, is Miller Genuine Draft.

"It's moving forward," a source said of the new Bud brand. "I think A-B sees that this summer could be as tough as last summer, and they want to move on it quickly."

Although no agency has been officially assigned the brand, it is believed DDB Needham Chicago will handle it, mainly because of its current work on Michelob Golden Draft, which will remain in its selected markets. Needham officials could not be reached for comment late last week.

"If there is an essential logic to the beer business, it is that you look at what works and try to follow it up," said Tom Pirko, president of Bevmark. "In A-B's case, they dumped something into Michelob and learned from it. But you have to ask how many brands can they add with the Bud name."

A Bud draft beer is not expected to replace Bud Dry. Because of its vast distribution network, Bud Dry shipped 2.4 million barrels and is the 13th largest brand in the U.S. Insiders say that A-B would be foolish to pull a brand with such numbers.

Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)