Anheuser-Busch InBev will strengthen it ties to the Big Apple by moving its U.S. sales and marketing execs from to New York City from St. Louis.
The move includes the formation of a new "U.S. commercial strategy office" in New York that will serve as a hub for sales and marketing operations, A-B InBev said in an internal memo shared with Ad Age. The office, to be staffed primarily by sales and marketing personnel, will be led by U.S. Marketing VP Jorn Socquet and U.S. VP-Sales David Almeida. The office is expected to eventually house roughly 250 people, including new hires.
"A New York office will provide us with unique opportunities to continue building our brands and developing our people in a new environment," A-B InBev said in the memo. "It will afford us greater exposure to developing trends in a diverse, urban center; proximity to marketing partners, including sports leagues, the music and entertainment industries and advertising agencies; and close ties with the Anheuser‑Busch InBev global functional office in New York."
The brewer's lead creative agencies include Anomaly in New York, as well as BBDO, which splits the workload between its New York and Chicago offices. Earlier this year, the company outsourced media buying to WPP's MediaCom, which is also based in New York. MediaCom also took over media planning from Publicis Groupe's Starcom, which is based in Chicago.
The brewer simultaneously is reversing a decision made earlier this year to locate a newly formed high-end business unit in Chicago. That office will now be in New York, although the company said its craft-beer operation within that high-end business unit will remain in Chicago. The brewer's global operations are largely run from New York City, which serves as the main base for CEO Carlos Brito.
The move of some high-level U.S. execs to New York has the potential to reignite debate over the long-term future of St. Louis for the brewer. A-B InBev was formed in 2008 after the acquisition of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch by Belgium-based, Brazilian-run InBev. A-B was founded in St. Louis in 1852.
"With this move there will be probably another round of wondering about what the role is of St. Louis for the future of Anheuser-Busch," said Benj Steinman, president of beer trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights. But any large-scale move away from St. Louis seems unlikely for the foreseeable future, considering the city is home to some of the company's largest assets, including its largest brewery. "St. Louis is our base and it remains our headquarters," a spokeswoman said.
But for some marketing execs, it apparently just isn't urban enough.