updated 5/20/2005 4:30:13 PM ET 2005-05-20T20:30:13

Anheuser-Busch Cos. hopes the two brothers behind last year's wildly popular cartoon parody of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaigns produces winning returns for Budweiser.

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In tapping JibJab Media Inc. to make online ads that may make their way onto television, the nation's largest brewer also seeks to defend its U.S. market share against rival Miller Brewing Co. and increase consumer thirst for wines and distilled spirits.

Anheuser-Busch announced the partnership with Gregg and Evan Spiridellis on Friday, debuting on its www.budweiser.com a 30-second teaser video that brings back the beer brand's popular pitchlizards, Frank and Louie.

The move seeks to lure more adult consumers to Budweiser's Web site through what's become known as "viral marketing" — online campaigns so appealing that consumers pass it along at lightning speed, much as the case with JibJab's "This Land" effort last summer.

That cartoon — a send-up of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" — put 6-year-old JibJab on the map, becoming one the biggest Internet draws of last fall's presidential campaign as it ribbed Kerry's masculinity and Bush's intellect.

"These things are heat-seeking missiles — they find the right audience," Gregg Spiridellis, 34, said of the cost-effective marketing style in which the spots are commonly passed along among like-minded consumers. "With these, the audience becomes the network; there's no media buy."

Anheuser-Busch's teaming with JibJab reflects, at least in part, the brewer's push to beef up marketing in hopes of boosting its volume of U.S. beer shipments as wine and distilled spirits continue to gain bigger shares of the alcoholic beverage market.

And the brewer looks to have fun through online marketing that can talk more directly and intimately to consumers perhaps than other mediums, said Andy Goeler, senior director of marketing of Budweiser.

"We want to continue to communicate to consumers that Budweiser is a fun brand," he said.

In the teaser cartoon unveiled Friday, the scaly tandem of Frank and Louie dance vaudevillesque in red-and-white vests and tophats while carrying canes, singing a modified rendition of "Roll Out The Barrel."

"Unleash the Clydesdales, we've got Miller beer on the run," the lizards croon as the cartoon shows the rival's deliveryman trying frantically to outrun Anheuser-Busch's iconic horses, only to be trampled.

"Drop the pink martini, this wine-and-cheese party's a bore," the lizards continue. "Bud is light, crisp, clean and pure."

"One of the benefits of the Internet is that we can be slightly more irreverent than we can on the television," Gregg Spiridellis said.

Anheuser-Busch's comic assault on Miller comes on the heels of the Milwaukee-based brewer's announcement Thursday that it has posted annual volume growth in North America for the first time since 1998.

Norman Adami, Miller's president and chief executive, said Miller's turnaround remains on track, its total volume up 0.3 percent in the year to March despite consumer spending dampened by rising fuel costs and a price war with Anheuser-Busch.

Adami said its rival has "started a price war that will have no winners, even over the long term," Adami said. "Our intention is to match A-B's aggressiveness. We've said we won't cede share to A-B based on their pricing moves."

When it comes to its characterization of Miller in the JibJab spot, Miller spokesman Peter Marino said only that "we're glad to see the spirited search for a cure for Bud fatigue continues. We will continue to talk about taste."

Anheuser-Busch said Santa Monica, Calif.-based JibJab will work with Budweiser on various projects this year, among other things developing videos that could air on television and the Internet. The first collaboration is planned for this summer.

Since JibJab's 1999 founding, the Spiridellis have worked with other large manufacturers, including Sony, Kraft, USA Networks and the History Channel.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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