Is a makeover coming for Busch and Busch Light labels?

Anheuser-Busch economy brand Busch may be getting a new look, based on recent filings with federal regulators.

Large-format single-serve cans of Busch and Busch Light appear to be getting four extra "H"s, hearkening back to Anheuser-Busch's 2017 advertising campaign for the economy brand.

The company recently obtained federal approval for new labels for 25-ounce beers, each of which spells Busch "Buschhhhh," and carries a red band along the top of the can with the text: "The Big One."

For now it’s unclear when the new look will roll out at retail or whether it will be expanded across other packaging. An Anheuser-Busch spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The newly approved labels recall a series of television spots the brand ran last year, including one during Super Bowl 51, that used onomatopoeia for humorous effect. The ads equated the sound of opening a can of Busch with its name, adding a few "H"s tongue-in-cheek.

Anheuser-Busch also registered "Buschhhhh" for a U.S. trademark in July 2017.

Rebranding the large-format cans could be part of an emerging economy strategy for Anheuser-Busch, which has pushed its Rolling Rock brand at a lower price point (-$1.09 per case for the most-recent four weeks, per Nielsen) and transitioned Natural Light into 15-packs in some markets. Natural Light also was featured in a regional Super Bowl spot this year for the first time, according to a report in Ad Age. 

Chelsea Phillips, vice president of Anheuser-Busch’s value brands said the company is “not willing to lose to anyone when it comes to value” at its annual distributor’s convention, Beer Marketer’s Insights reported (subscription required.) They will continue to roll out Natural Light 15-packs to “stay competitive” as well as a new round of Busch and Busch Light ads, per the BMI report.

Busch Light shipments grew 1.2 percent in 2017 while Busch declined by 2.1 percent, according to a Beer Marketer’s Insights estimate. So far in 2018, Busch Light sales volume is down 0.5 percent while Busch posted a 9.6 percent drop, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through Jan. 27.

Brewers have stepped up their focus on economy brands in recent years in an effort to keep value-conscious consumers in the beer category.

For 2017, Anheuser-Busch’s economy brands gained 0.2 percentage points of share in the economy segment, while the MillerCoors economy portfolio held share, according to a Beer Marketers Insights analysis of Nielsen data. The publication noted that MillerCoors picked up 0.7 share in the four weeks ending Dec. 30, while Anheuser-Busch lost 0.4.

The new Busch labels also represent the second time in recent months that Anheuser-Busch has used its packaging as an element of a marketing campaign. Bud Light in late 2017 submitted an application for new labels that say "Dilly Dilly" in place of Bud Light. Earlier last year, Budweiser re-branded itself “America” and gained approval for labels that replaced “Budweiser” with the names of 11 states in which the company operates breweries.