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Food & Drink

Not Even Justin Timberlake Can Save Bud Light Platinum

Justin Timberlake, the face of Bud Light Platinum

Photograph by Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Justin Timberlake, the face of Bud Light Platinum

Last year’s splashiest new beer launch was Bud Light Platinum. Anheuser-Busch InBev blanketed the airwaves with ads for its beverage, which comes in a sleek, dark-blue bottle and has 2 percent more alcohol than its mother brand. Almost immediately, the new brew became the subject of ironic fascination in the blogosphere. “Tastes weird, more filling, sells like crazy,” Amos Barshad wrote on BuzzFeed in a piece entitled, “The Triumph of Bud Light Platinum, Millennium Party Fuel.” Timberlake in a Bud Light commercialTimberlake in a Bud Light commercial

AB InBev (BUD) tried to capitalize on the brand’s popularity by hiring the multifaceted entertainer Justin Timberlake as the brand’s “creative director.” “Bud Light Platinum brings a refined, discerning aesthetic to beer that plays well with what I’m doing,” Timberlake mused in a statement. “I’m looking forward to not only being a part of the creative process, but in bringing other talented musicians to the forefront as well.”

Then, on Tuesday, AB InBev released disheartening news about the brand: Platinum’s growth slackened in the first quarter of 2013, compared with its “exceptionally strong” first three months of last year when the new light beer was unveiled.

In other words, Bud Light Platinum seems to be a victim of its own success. Or perhaps Bud Light drinkers put more of a premium on flavor than refinement. AB InBev said the decline of Platinum was “partially offset” by the growth of Bud 
Light Lime Straw-ber-Rita and Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita, both of which also made their debuts last year to considerable wonderment.

Or could it be that they want more alcohol? Lime-A-Rita has 2 percent more than Platinum. Who needs a creative director when you have that as a selling point?

Leonard is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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