Beer maker taps Hub ad shops

By Greg Gatlin

The Super Bowl advertising battle is already heating up in the Hub, with two Boston shops developing spots for the king of advertisers, Anheuser-Busch, that could have big-game potential.

Boston-based Modernista!, the small Kingston Street agency that built a name for itself with work for The Gap, MTV and General Motor’s Hummer vehicle, has joined Anheuser-Busch’s roster of agencies, a Budweiser executive said.

That’s a huge opportunity for Modernista!, given that Anheuser-Busch is one of the nation’s top advertisers, and the perennial Super Bowl advertising champion. It has a reported $240 million media budget for Bud and Bud Light alone.

Boston-based Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos, which scored the top-rated ad for Bud in last season’s Super Bowl – a zebra reviewing a play in a football game between Clydesdales – is also trying to get back to The Show this year. It’s one of numerous agencies working on potential Super Bowl material for Anheuser-Busch. Some expect more Clydesdales on the gridiron.

Modernista! is developing work for Budweiser’s “True” campaign. That work is not a shoo-in to get air time during the Super Bowl. Anheuser-Busch is known for letting its large roster of agencies compete to come up with the best spots that run during the big game. The St. Louis beer maker has bought 10 30-second Super Bowl spots this year and is the exclusive alcohol beverage advertiser. Super Bowl spots bought separately tend to go for more than $2 million apiece.

“Modernista has developed some memorable creative advertising, and we’re pleased to have them on our agency roster,” said Bob Lachky, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of brand management. “The agency will develop ads that could air on a variety of television programming, including the Super Bowl.”

Clift Jones, Modernista!’s president, said Anheuser-Busch was a fan of work done by agency co-founder Gary Koepke, when he was at another agency.

“They reached out to us,” Jones said. “We’re obviously excited to be working with them. We pride ourselves on big brand efforts. It’s a great opportunity for a company our size.”

Hill Holliday has done recent print and broadcast work supporting the launch of a new Anheuser-Busch beer, World Select, which has been tested in cities, including New York and San Francisco.