Another Change in Anheuser-Busch's Sports-Marketing Leadership

Dan McHugh, Who Replaced Legend Tony Ponturo, Has Left the Company

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- One of the most powerful perches in all of sports marketing now has its third inhabitant in 11 months.

Dan McHugh, Anheuser-Busch's VP-media, sponsorship and activation, left the company Oct. 12. Mr. McHugh took over the job -- which manages one of the world's largest sports-marketing budgets as well as all of A-B's media buying and planning -- after sports-marketing legend Tony Ponturo quit the post in November.

A-B has a total U.S. ad budget of nearly $1.6 billion.

String of departures
Mark Wright, an A-B veteran who had been managing Busch Media Group, the company's in-house buying and planning arm, is replacing Mr. McHugh. He'll report directly to Keith Levy, A-B's VP-marketing.

It wasn't immediately clear why Mr. McHugh was departing, but his is only the latest in a string of executive departures at A-B in the 11 months since InBev bought the company.

Other recent VP-level departures include Tim Schoen, a 28-year A-B veteran who led global sports and entertainment marketing, and David English, who led A-B's non-alcohol efforts. Messrs. Schoen and English teamed with another former A-B VP, Mark Greenspahn, to launch TeamCMO, a marketing and management company specializing in sports and entertainment.

No plan to cut in-house media unit
Mr. Ponturo, routinely listed as one of the most powerful men in sports during his time at A-B, left shortly before InBev's acquisition of A-B. Another bold-face name at the company, Chief Creative Officer Bob Lachky, departed in February.

Mr. McHugh's departure is also bound to reignite speculation regarding the future of Busch Media.

Given InBev's goal of cutting more than $2 billion in costs out of A-B, many have wondered whether an in-house media agency is a likely target. But A-B executives have repeatedly said they have no intention to cut the unit, saying it effectively leverages the brewing behemoth's scale to achieve below-market-rate pricing on many media buys.

Mr. McHugh's departure was first reported by Beer Marketer's Insights.

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