InBev: 'We Understand Bud'

CEO, CMO Vow They Will Maintain Spending for King of Beers

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InBev's CEO Carlos Brito and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Burggraeve have been unequivocal in their insistence that the Brazilian-Belgian brewing colossus -- renowned for its zero-based budgeting -- won't gut Anheuser-Busch's marketing. Here's what they had to say in their own words.

InBev CEO Carlos Brito

"One of the legacies of A-B is its marketing expertise. We intend to continue to support the [current] marketing-spend levels. ... I don't have plans to cut marketing. ... I have lots to learn [from A-B about it]. ... We're committed to maintain and not change what has worked so well."
"In terms of brand support, we understand that Budweiser was built on a platform of certain properties that are important, like Nascar, NFL, NHL and the Super Bowl. All these things are an integral part of how consumers see and are loyal to the brand. Nobody would in their right state of mind change that. ... We understand Budweiser, the way it's positioned to consumers."
Chris Burggraeve

InBev CMO Chris Burggraeve

"First and foremost in brand management, the No. 1 question you should ask yourself is: What should not change? You do not change a number of things that have worked for generations. Bud will always be Bud and should always be Bud. Many things will be absolutely kept intact and should be."

Tale of the tape: InBev/A-B vs. Microsoft/Yahoo

Had Microsoft acted more like InBev, Yahoo would be in the software giant's clutches by now, according to Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock. Here's how the two stack up.
PRICE $70 a share, up from initial offer of $65 a share Well, it's cloudy. Started at $31 a share and went to $33 when Yahoo was asking $37. After balking, Yahoo now willing to sell at $33.
THE PLAYERS Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV, InBev CEO Carlos Brito Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, Mr. Bostock, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
COURTING PERIOD About seven weeks. Speculation of a bid surfaced on May 23, sending A-B shares soaring, and the deal was inked July 13. Almost six months -- and counting.
THE TACTIC It started with A-B rejecting the bid made on June 11. A sale of the brewer wasn't going to happen "on my watch," Mr. Busch had said. A few weeks later, InBev launched a hostile takeover. The "cease-fire" between the two came July 11. Microsoft's bid was Jan. 31; Yahoo rebuffed it 12 days later. On April 5, Microsoft imposed a three-week deadline. Yahoo then angered Microsoft by allying with its archrival, Google. Microsoft has since tried to buy Yahoo's search assets, but management doesn't want a breakup .
THE TURNING POINT InBev's offer was high enough to divide the Busch family. (When nominating its alternative slate of directors, it included a Busch.) A similar familial division took place when News Corp. went after Dow Jones. It's unclear, said Columbia University law professor John Coffee, whether Yahoo has such internal divisions to exploit. In May, when most expected to see Microsoft launch a hostile takeover, it backed off. It said the economics no longer made sense and warned Yahoo against moves that could further damage its value in the eyes of an acquirer, a clear reference to the search-ad outsourcing deal Yahoo struck with Google. Yahoo's stock is still sunk, and it wants Microsoft to reconsider. Microsoft has said it is unwilling with Yahoo's current management.
--Abbey Klaassen
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