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    Summer Promotions Brewing

    Beer companies gear up for critical summer months.

    ST LOUIS ? Gearing up for the summer season ? which typically accounts for almost 40 percent of the $60 billion of beer annually sold by the United States Beer Industry ? major brewers have announced summer promotions to help drive sales.

    Retailers should note that good promotions will be especially critical during the key summer holidays ? Fourth of July, Labor Day and in less than two weeks, Memorial Day. The Washington, D.C.-based Beer Institute estimates that nearly 20 percent of the beer industry's annual sales are met on these three days alone.

    In a campaign geared toward convincing consumers that fresh beer is better, Anheuser-Busch recently leveraged its "born on" labeling with its first national "Freshness Day." This week A-B targeted retailers with a taste test promotion, shipping beer packaged earlier in the day to retailers in 180 U.S. markets. The taste tests kicked off a summer-long marketing effort; fresh beer has been a pet project of August A. Busch IV, who will become global president of Anheuser-Busch on July 1.

    Corona plans to spend $25 million ? half of its annual advertising budget ? from May to August in an ongoing series of television advertisements that tie the beer to the beach.

    "Corona is about fun, sun and beach. This campaign is meant to accentuate that positioning," Bill Hackett, president of Corona importer Barton Beers in Chicago told USA Today.

    Miller will counter these and other campaigns with its "Time Off" sweepstakes promotion. Ten winners and will be offered weeklong vacations with three of their friends to sunny locations such as Las Vegas, Key West or Malibu, Calif. Game cards will be found in packages of Miller beers.

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