I’ve been a Bud Fan ever since Harry Carey declared himself a Cub Fan, Bud Man (remember those commercials of Harry singing the jingle? I vaguely remember, it was like, 1988.) And now look who else is jumping on the bandwagon! Kasey Kahne, my obligatory favorite Nascar driver*, hops on with Bud now that Jr. is off promoting Pepsi (bleh!)
* I would not be a true southerner if I didn’t at least root for a Nascar driver, I think it’s a rule somewhere in southern code.
Budweiser to raise some Kahne
During Budweiser’s announcement last week that the company would sponsor Kasey Kahne’s No. 9 Dodge, Tony Ponturo dropped a few subtle reminders that Bud’s activation makes the driver, the driver doesn’t make Bud.When you’re the biggest-spending and most-visible team sponsor in NASCAR, you don’t worry about the star you just lost. You go about making the next star.
Sure, Budweiser wanted to stay with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the driver moved to Hendrick Motorsports. Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of global media and marketing, didn’t even try to spin it last week as Earnhardt announced his new sponsor, Mountain Dew Amp, and Bud moved to Kahne’s car at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Bud’s first preference was to build on the nine years it had invested with Earnhardt.
Once it became evident earlier this summer that Earnhardt and Hendrick had other ideas, Bud’s marketing team wasted no time crying over spilt beer. Kahne was the driver Bud wanted and he’ll be the beneficiary of one of the most powerful marketing machines in sports, just as Earnhardt was.
Anheuser-Busch’s ad spend on sports was more than $250 million last year, accounting for more than three-quarters of its total ad spend, according to Nielsen Media Research. The company was the biggest spender in sports from 1995 to 2005 before Chevrolet inched ahead last year.
Budweiser’s marketing muscle will boost
the image of Kasey Kahne and the
No. 9 Dodge.
“Marketing power and visibility create the bigger-than-life feel,” Ponturo said. It wasn’t until Bud began using Earnhardt in clothes other than his uniform that he took on a new level of celebrity, Ponturo said.
“That’s when you started seeing him in Rolling Stone,” he said.
Kahne, 27, won’t be Earnhardt. His boyish look won’t lend itself to a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max”-style car chase, as Earnhardt performed in one of his last Bud ads. The five-o’clock shadow Earnhardt typically wears to every appearance would have to be painted on Kahne’s youthful face.
But Ponturo already has visions for 2008 when Kahne hops into the Bud car for the first time. He’s thinking of golfer Sergio Garcia in the Michelob Ultra spots, where Garcia woos the women by the pool or at the party. He’s thinking of Kahne in front of a laptop or texting on his cell phone, trying to appeal to the 20-something crowd that loves sports, but also loves gadgets.
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