Having worked on the Coors account for a number of years, I can report what a dog and pony show the annual distributors conventions is. So, it comes as no surprise to read in Brandweek the lengths August Busch IV went to to impress his distributors.
August Busch IV had whipped up the crowd of Anheuser-Busch distributors into a frenzy with an impassioned speech, promising that the No. 1 brewer would tell America the truth about those foreign beers, namely SABMiller-owned Miller Brewing and Molson Coors.
Distributors already were feeling good before August’s battle cry speech on March 22 because company executives already announced that they would lighten up with equity contract compliance. Wholesalers now could spend more time selling beer and rolling out new product and less time dealing with redundancies like brewer audits and ride-alongs to customer accounts with A-B reps.
The audience was standing by the time a full complement of Clydesdales pulling the Budweiser wagon charged onto the raised convention center stage. They watched the convention hall big screens as August IV walked to the floor where his father August III, chairman, sat and knelt before him in homage. The senior Busch was visibly moved to tears.
Maybe August IV’s ascendancy to top executive was on the line. But if his test was to energize the brewer’s distribution channel, he passed.
Here’s what Sun Times advertising columnist, Lewis Lazare had to say about the stunt:
The pressure from a newly aggressive competitor must be really getting to the top brass at Anheuser Busch. In what must have been a bizarre sight to behold, President August Busch IV — acting like a vassal paying tribute to his king 300 or 400 years ago — reportedly kneeled down in front of his father, Chairman August Busch III at an annual meeting of AB distributors last week in San Diego. Weird.