Michael Roarty, whose ad campaigns helped Anheuser-Busch market share soar, dies at 84

ST. LOUIS – Michael Roarty, the marketing executive behind many of the iconic advertising campaigns that turned Anheuser-Busch into a beer industry superpower, has died. He was 84.

The brewery and the funeral home handling arrangements confirmed that Roarty died Saturday from a heart attack suffered a day earlier at his home in the St. Louis suburb of Town and Country.

“Mike Roarty leaves a legacy at Anheuser-Busch for his brilliant marketing over many years selling the Budweiser, Michelob and other beer brands,” Anheuser-Busch Vice-President of Marketing Paul Chibe said in a statement Monday.

“He left an indelible mark at both Anheuser-Busch and in advertising history.”

Roarty spent 43 years at Anheuser-Busch and was vice-president of marketing from 1977 to 1990, retiring as executive vice-president in 1994. During his tenure, the company’s share of the U.S. market more than doubled, to 43 per cent.

He oversaw campaigns such as Budweiser’s “This Bud’s for You,” Busch Beer’s “Head for the Mountains,” Michelob’s “Weekends Were Made for Michelob” and Bud Light’s “Gimme a Light.”

“He brought taste and elegance to beer with some of the most memorable marketing in any business of the time,” Chibe said.

Roarty is also credited with the brewery’s “Know When to Say When” campaign aimed at keeping people from driving drunk.

Roarty played a key role in Anheuser-Busch’s involvement in sports marketing. The Sporting News named him the sixth most powerful figure in American sports in 1992, a year before his retirement.

He was elected to American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame in 1995.

Roarty is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and four grandchildren. A visitation is 4-8 p.m. Wednesday at Bopp Chapel in Kirkwood. A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Clement of Rome Roman Catholic Church in Des Peres. Burial will be private.