Anheuser-Busch to Tone Down US Ads Amid Indecency Storm

19 April 2004

Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch is to change the tone of its US advertising in light of the political clampdown on broadcast obscenity.

Addressing the 2004 management conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, AB president August A Busch IV revealed the company had decided to reassess its beer ads after the fiasco at this year's Super Bowl. Ever since Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe "malfunction" during the halftime show, politicians and lawmakers have set out to punish obscene content.

"As we came out of the Super Bowl, the mood of the country seemed to have changed, and some of our ads got wrapped into that same controversy," Busch declared. AB's recent commercials -- such as a Bud Light spot that featured a flatulent horse -- have been attacked for appealing to the lowest common denominator.

"We are taking a more cautious approach to our creative," he continued, adding that the company would try "not be distasteful in our content moving forward."

Busch declared that AB and its agencies are prepared to improve their research. "There's something going on we need to understand," he remarked.

Equally penitent was Bob Scarpelli, chief creative officer for DDB Worldwide, the network responsible for many of AB's Super Bowl ads.

He insisted the under-fire commercials proved popular in tests before they went on air. "But in the context of the halftime show, it all got crazy," he added. "We need to be listening to the [public's] changing mood."

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff