Anheuser-Busch InBev is hoping to give a boost to their flagging Budweiser brand, whose sales have slumped for twenty-two consecutive years, by emulating the old advertiser-produced shows of the '40s and '50s (the original "soap operas" produced by soap companies) with a new reality TV show called Bud United Presents: The Big Time, which will air Saturday afternoons for seven weeks on ABC, beginning January 21.
The show will feature amateur contestants, chosen from thousands of online applicants, competing in various sporting events, and other fields such as music and cooking, with winners receiving one-of-a-kind prizes, like getting to perform at a Las Vegas concert featuring Lady Gaga and Sting.
Bud Light still dominates the beer market, accounting for almost a fifth of sales, while Budweiser's market share dropped to 8.7% last year (continuing to fall in 2011), just ahead of Coors Light. (Consumer Reports revealed on Thursday that Coors beat out Bud and Bud Light in blind taste tests.)
Though haters of product placement probably won't be tuning in, contestants won't be shown drinking Bud on the show, as per ABC's policy forbidding on-camera alcohol consumption. Budweiser signs and logos will also be kept to a minimum, so as to not look like one big infomercial. Jason Warner, Budweiser's global vice president, said, "We want this to be natural and authentic. Just because we created the content doesn't mean we have to paint everything red with Budweiser."
Still, despite the past success of big horses and frogs in getting people to drink their brew, Budweiser, also contending with the rise of small-brand craft beers, might want to eventually tweak their played-out recipe.