ST. LOUIS – Anheuser-Busch Cos. has taken the unusual step of hiring entrepreneurial rapper Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter as a co-brand director for Budweiser Select, marking the first time the country’s largest brewer has signed a celebrity to actively participate in the development of one of its beer brands.

While companies frequently use celebrities to endorse products, it is uncommon to involve big-name performers and athletes in the planning of marketing strategy, said Brian Till, chairman of the marketing department at the John Cook School of Business at St. Louis University.

“It’s a pretty significant experiment,” he said.

Anheuser-Busch said Jay-Z would participate in planning sessions to provide “spin, thoughts and insights on various brand programs.” The company would not give other details on his role in these sessions.

However, part of the collaboration involves television advertising. The first 60-second spot marrying Jay-Z and Budweiser Select ran last week during Monday Night Football on ESPN.

The commercial incorporates plugs for Budweiser Select with scenes from a recent Jay-Z video shot in Monte Carlo and Nice, France. Set to the track of his new song “Show Me What You Got,” the spot features Jay-Z and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick.

“Show Me What You Got” is the lead single from Jay-Z’s album “Kingdom Come,” scheduled for release on Nov. 21. The album marks Jay-Z’s return to recorded music since he retired in 2003 and was named president and chief executive of Def Jam Recordings.

A 30-second condensed version of the spot is scheduled to air this weekend. St. Louis-based ad agency Cannonball collaborated on the ads.

Marlene Coulis, vice president of brand management at the brewer’s domestic brewing subsidiary, said the company sees Jay-Z as a great entrepreneur with expertise in pop culture, music and business. In addition to his role at Def Jam, Jay-Z oversees Rocawear, a multimillion dollar clothing company, and is part-owner of the New Jersey Nets.

“He’s got great appeal,” she said, adding that Jay-Z can help Anheuser-Busch “reach people in ground-breaking ways. He reaches our consumers on so many dimensions.”

The collaboration comes as the nation’s largest brewer expands efforts to attract young adults increasingly attracted to wine and spirits. In September, for example, Anheuser-Busch said it will launch an online entertainment network targeting consumers aged 21 to 27.

Till said he thought that Jay-Z’s endorsements would most likely influence young adults to choose Budweiser Select over other brands, rather than cause them to drink beer instead of other alcoholic beverages.

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