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CW Taps Beer For 1st Time

While many of the network’s premieres this fall have already come and gone, there was something never before seen on The CW last week: a beer commercial.

The network, which says it targets females 18-34 as its main demographic, debuted its first-ever beer spot, a 30-second commercial for Bud Light that the brand purchased in the scatter market. The commercial first ran on Melrose Place and America’s Next Top Model.

The CW’s openness to accepting beer spots and the interest by those brands could mean a new revenue stream for the network, jointly owned by Warner Bros. and CBS.

Given its programming lineup, the net has found success with youth-oriented marketers, including Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Yahoo and T-Mobile’s Google phone.

While the decision to run the ads could be seen by some as risky given its target demo, The CW says the average age of its viewers is 33. But The CW has never been afraid of controversy surrounding marketing, though it is usually the network’s own attention-grabbing messaging that drums up chatter, as the net is often lauded by industry observers for its edgy promos.

Alcohol companies regulate themselves and have pledged to limit advertising in TV shows reaching a youth audience. The companies agree to limit advertising to shows whose audience is no more than 30% youth (age 12-20), a criterion met by The CW.

“Advertisers have reflected a remarkable level of responsibility in their messaging,” says Adonis Hoffman, senior VP and counsel to the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

“The FTC has examined the various self-regulatory codes of the beer, wine and distilled-spirits groups, and has said the vast majority of that advertising is directed to adults,” says Dan Jaffe of the Association of National Advertisers. The CW declined to comment.

With John Eggerton