SAO PAULO (AdAge.com) -- In a surprise move, Anheuser-Busch InBev picked local Sao Paulo shop Africa to launch Budweiser beer in Brazil this year over the brand's international network DDB -- even though DDB's Brazilian agency was the only contender left in the lengthy review.
Nizan Guanaes, chairman of Grupo ABC, the Brazilian holding company that owns Africa and a sizable stake in DDB's Brazilian agency, is believed to have stepped in when AmBev, the beer marketer's Latin American operation, was dissatisfied with DDB and suggested Africa. Mr. Guanaes, who ran DDB's Brazilian agency in the past, started Africa in 2002 and the agency is now among the top 10 agencies in Brazil. Mr. Guanaes, who is in Paris this week, could not immediately be reached for comment.
AmBev started the review almost a year ago and was down to two finalists, Leo Burnett and DDB, last September when Leo Burnett got a call from the client to say the agency didn't win. The Brazilian market has been waiting for an announcement that never came that the account would go to DDB.
Four months later, AmBev's communications director, Alexandre Loures, confirmed today that Africa will launch Bud in Brazil. Africa wasn't involved in the earlier pitch but is the agency of record for another AmBev brand, Brahma, Brazil's No. 2 beer. During last year's World Cup, Anheuser-Busch focused its massive marketing campaign for Brazil on Brahma, with work from Africa. DDB has other AmBev assignments, too, for Bohemia beer and soft drink Guarana Antarctica.
Budweiser is expected to launch this fall, in Brazil's premium beer category, and will compete against Heineken. Heineken is also reviewing its agency relationships. The brand works with Fischer & Fala, and uses another agency, Mohallem/Artplan, for the Rock in Rio music festival Heineken sponsors.