A-B InBev Is Close to Hiring 360i for Global Digital Insights and Strategy

Assignment Expected to Include Consumer Insights

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Anheuser-Busch InBev is poised to add Dentsu's 360i to its agency roster to support global digital insights and strategy, according to people familiar with the matter.

A-B InBev is the world's largest brewer, with big international brands include Budweiser, Stella Artois and, outside the U.S., Corona. It is said to be looking for assistance with go-to-market strategies, which could include analysis of competitors, as well as consumer insights.

A-B InBev and 360i declined to comment.

The assignment is not expected to affect the brewer's relationship with AKQA, which handles some digital creative in the U.S. for the brewer.

The executive overseeing the process at A-B InBev is Ricardo Dias, according to the people familiar with the matter. Mr. Dias was promoted in February to become the brewer's global VP for consumer connections, after serving as VP of procurement for Asia Pacific.

A-B InBev ranks as the world's 39th-largest ad spender with $1.05 billion in measured media in 2012, according to the latest ranking from the Ad Age DataCenter. Like most alcohol marketers, the brewer is putting more emphasis on digital advertising as it seeks to gain loyalty with fickle millennials.

The win for 360i would mean it would gain another alcohol client. The shop already is the social agency of record in the U.S. for Smirnoff and Guinness, which are both owned by Diageo. While having A-B InBev on its roster could raise conflict concerns, the brewer and Diageo have a precedent of co-existing at the same agency. For instance, Anomaly handles creative for Budweiser and Captain Morgan, while BBDO has creative for Bud Light and Guinness.

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