AB InBev Taps Former ESPN Sales Director to Lead Media, Sports Marketing

Brewer Says D'Sylva Brings 'Rounded Perspective'

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Anheuser-Busch InBev has hired Blaise D'Sylva, a former sales director at ESPN, as U.S. VP- media, and sports and entertainment marketing. He replaces Mark Wright, who left the brewer for AT&T last summer.

Blaise D'Sylva
Blaise D'Sylva

Mr. D'Sylva oversaw multimedia sales in the Midwest for ESPN as a senior director-sales manager based in Chicago. His resume includes time at Allstate, where he was director-media integration, and at Starcom MediaVest Group, where he spent nine years in various positions, including senior VP and chief executive-northeast Asia.

"He has the rounded perspective I need," Paul Chibe, AB InBev's VP-U.S. marketing, told Ad Age . Mr. D'Sylva is "someone who's run a media operation, someone who's been on the client side and someone who's been actually at a media company selling."

AB InBev is the No. 22 advertiser in the U.S. and spent $1.36 billion in 2010, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.

Mr. D'Sylva joins the brewer two months after it brought on Publicis Groupe 's Starcom USA to handle U.S. media planning and research duties. AB InBev had handled all such duties through Busch Media Group, which continues to field longer-term strategic initiatives and media buying.

The new executive will oversee Starcom USA, his former employer, as the brewer's new media agency. Mr. Chibe said that was not a critical factor in the hire, which he indicated was in the works before the brewer brought on the agency in early November. Mr. D'Sylva has strong Chicago roots, as does Mr. Chibe, who previously worked at Wm. Wrigley Jr. Mr. Chibe said he had met Mr. D'Sylva previously but that the two had never worked together.

Mr. D'Sylva responsibilities will include the NFL sponsorship deal, which began last year and is costing the company an estimated $50 million a year for six years. AB InBev is also the exclusive beer advertiser for the Super Bowl. This year the brewer has secured four and a half minutes of commercial time and will air a mix of 30- and 60-second spots. Brands expected to be plugged include Budweiser, Bud Light and a new, higher-alcohol line extension called Bud Light Platinum. By contrast, last year's buy was three and a half minutes while 2010's was five minutes.

AB InBev also invests heavily in Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Major League Soccer and Nascar.

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