Can lightning strike twice for Anheuser-Busch InBev? The brewer is hoping a formula that worked so well last year can repeat itself in 2013.
Budweiser is rolling out Budweiser Crown Black to retailers on Jan. 21, in advance of a big promotional push that will include a thirty-second spot during Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Feb. 3.
While Budweiser Crown Black is a new branding, consumers may already know the beer as one of the "Project 12" beers released in a sampler pack this fall. "Project 12" was 2012 Bud initiative which asked the brewers from the company's 12 regional breweries to put their own spin the company's flagship beer.
After extensive consumer sampling and feedback of the 12 beers, including at the Budweiser Made in America music festival over Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia, three beers were released nationwide last October in a sample pack.
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The brews were each named after the ZIP codes in which they were first created. Budweiser Batch No. 91406, from the Los Angeles area brewery, will now be joining the permanent Budweiser roster as the new Budweiser Black Crown.
"It didn't matter where in the United States we asked, this is the beer that consistently drew the best feedback, and overwhelmingly so," said Rob McCarthy, vice president of Budweiser.
The new brand extension is a deep-amber lager with six-percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Traditional Budweiser has a 5 percent abv.
A higher alcohol Budweiser brand extension follows last year's hugely successful release of Bud Light Platinum and the New Year's Eve launch of the higher alcohol Beck's Sapphire.
Bud Light Platinum, which also made it national debut with a Super Bowl spot, went on to become the most successful brand launch of 2012, selling roughly 14 million cases and capturing more than a one percent market share.
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Where Bud Light Platinum was aimed at wooing back a younger crowd which may have turned away from beer in bars and nightclubs, Budweiser Black Crown appears to position itself to the large base of consumers which already drinks Budweiser but may be looking for something a little different.
"Our research shows that after beer drinkers try Budweiser Black Crown, 84 percent would purchase it," said Nate Scudieri, senior brand manager for Budweiser Black Crown. "It stays true to the original Budweiser recipe, but has its own unique take."
The beer's national advertising campaign also has an active social media component, with interactive consumer programs on Facebook and Twitter that the company says are "designed to be participatory, similar in spirit to when consumers were asked to help choose the recipe that would ultimately become Budweiser Black Crown." The social media campaign will feature the Twitter hashtag #TASTEIS.
The beer will be sold nationwide in 12-ounce glass bottles available in six- and 12-packs and in 22-ounce single bottles. It will be available in both bars and restaurants and at grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores.
Budweiser is America's No. 1 premium regular beer, selling more than its four nearest competitors combined.
-By CNBC's Tom Rotunno; Follow him on Twitter @TomRotunno
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