August Adolphus Busch IV is an American businessman and brewer known throughout the world as a master marketer and advertiser.
August is the former president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch Cos., the world’s largest brewer founded by his great-great-grandfather Adolphus Busch in 1876. He is also a former board member of the FedEx Corporation, where he served on the shipping giant’s compensation committee, and Anheuser-Busch InBev.
August is the son of legendary former Anheuser-Busch Chairman and CEO August Busch III, and grandson of August “Gussie” Busch Jr.
August IV has been heralded by the press as a “creative genius.” When he became head of Anheuser-Busch’s marketing division, August infused the company with youthful
creativity. There, he helped introduce the world to the popular Budweiser frogs who chirped “Bud-Weis-Er” and “Louie the Lizard.” The lizard ads were named as the most popular ever by USA Today. He also oversaw the memorable “Wassup?” and “I Love You Man” advertising campaigns, in addition to the iconic “Real Men of Genius” radio spots, which won the Grand Prix award at Cannes. The ads, created with A-B executive Robert Lackey, helped jolt the company’s bottom line by double digits after five years of stagnant profits.
In 2000, the “Wassup?” campaign stormed international awards contests, winning the Grand Lion at Cannes and the Grand Clio in New York. The ads, created in connection with Chicago-based DDB, were major viral hits in the United States, parodied by television shows like The Simpsons, Friends, The Office, and How I Met Your Mother. In 2006, the ads were inducted into the Clio Hall of Fame.
“In our lifetimes, we’ll never see so much value created from a single idea,” August IV said at the time. “As our tagline said: ‘True.’”
In 2001, August IV received the Advertiser of the Year award at the 48th
International Advertising Festival in Cannes.
One journalist wrote: “Alligators, lizards, croaking frogs and friends
bleating nonsensically at each other down the telephone might not
initially seem profitable advertising avenues, but then
August A. Busch IV is not your average advertiser.”
August green-lighted Budweiser’s 2002 Super Bowl ad honoring victims
of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The spot, produced in concert with Boston-based Hill Holliday, featured Clydesdale horses bowing before the Statue of Liberty and New York City skyline. August ordered that the commercial air only once. Today it is considered one of the most effective ads of all time.
As head of Anheuser-Busch’s marketing and brand efforts, the company won an unprecedented ten straight USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter Awards.
August was named president of Anheuser-Busch Companies in 2001, where he presided over the launch of Bud Select and Michelob Ultra—a beer that continues to thrive more than a decade since its launch. Ultra was marketed to carb-conscious, exercise-focused consumers. Currently, it’s Anheuser-Busch’s fastest growing brand and the USA’s third best-selling beer.
In 2006, August IV led the purchase of Pennsylvania-based Rolling Rock.
August IV spearheaded the launch of Bud Light Lime—an offshoot franchise that remains a steady growth driver for Anheuser-Busch InBev. He also was instrumental in purchasing the naming rights to Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team that was formerly owned by the brewery. In 2005, team owner Bill Dewitt Jr. said: “From the day we began planning for the new ballpark, we wanted to keep the name ‘Busch Stadium.' August Busch IV and Anheuser-Busch share our vision for continuing that tradition for our great fans and the entire St. Louis community.”
August stepped down as CEO when InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch in 2006, but joined Anheuser-Busch InBev's board of directors. Despite a global economic crisis, August IV negotiated a $70-per-share buyout. At the time, the $52 billion deal was the largest all-cash transaction in American history.
August IV began at Anheuser-Busch in 1985 as an apprentice brewer, where he was a member of Brewers & Maltsters Local No. 6, a division of the Teamsters union. He received his brewing certificate from the International Brewing Institute in Berlin, Germany. August worked alongside legendary Budweiser brewmaster Gerhardt Kraemer to open Anheuser-Busch breweries in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1988, and Cartersville, Georgia in 1993.
August attended Parkway West High School in west St. Louis County. He graduated magna cum laude from Saint Louis University and also earned an MBA from there. In 2006, he received an honorary doctorate from Webster University.
An accomplished pilot, August holds licenses to fly both airplanes and helicopters. He has more than three-decades experience in the air. He learned to fly as a young man when he often flew his father, August III, who is also a pilot, to work at Anheuser-Busch’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis. August is an expert martial arts practitioner. He studies under legendary Korean Grand Master Bong Yul Shin and maintains 5th Dan blackbelts in Judo, Tae-Kwon-Do, and Hapkido.
August is a major donor to charitable causes. He previously served as the national vice president for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Today, he currently serves on the board of directors of Backstoppers Inc., which provides financial support for police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
When addressing graduates in Leiden, The Netherlands, August discussed his unique life and said: “Mistakes will happen. That's inevitable. But in failure there is learning, and in learning there is experience. That's how you improve and grow. So never stop learning. Listen carefully, stay open to new ideas. Try new things. Ask questions. Read. Travel. Explore and dream.”