"We are discussing with several advertising agencies some new
possibilities in supporting Bud Light," Mr. Chibe said in a
statement to Ad Age late last week. "It's too early to predict
where this will lead, but we are firmly committed to making sure
our brands are always supported by the best people and
ideas. We are excited to find ways to take Bud Light to even
For agencies it's a chance to work on the biggest ad-spending
account in all of beer, with more than $276 million in measured
media spending in 2010, according to Kantar Media.
So who's pitching? Industry executives say A-B InBev is casting
a much wider net than it has in the past. While some shops that
have been invited to present creative work have worked with the
brewer for Super Bowl work and other projects in the past, the
company is also said to be in talks with a handful of undisclosed
shops it's never partnered with before.
Although longtime incumbent DDB is participating, the review is a sign
of a strained relationship. DDB's latest pitch is being made not by
its Chicago office -- which has long been the headquarters for the
account -- but from a team of players made up from across North
America, industry executives said.
Another incumbent, Cannonball, seems to be in better standing.
The St. Louis agency was recently picked for a football-themed
campaign this fall that will kick off Bud Light's new NFL
sponsorship. Contrary to what some people assumed when Mr. Chibe
joined A-B InBev in June, he's not looking at BBDO, a shop he worked with closely during
his 11 years at candy maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. BBDO, which handles
Guinness, is not part of the process.
It's hard to overstate the importance of Bud Light to A-B InBev
in the states. CEO Carlos Brito during the company's recent
earnings call said it's "No. 1 priority in the U.S. is to
accelerate the growth of Bud Light." He added: "The key
brand-health indicators for Bud Light continued to improve and we
gained share in the quarter," but, "we believe we can do
Although Bud Light has struggled during the economic downturn,
it remains by far the best-selling beer in the U.S., commanding
19.1% market share at the end of 2010, according to Beer Marketer's
Insights. Recently, grocery sales picked up 1.55% in the year
ending Aug. 7, according to SymphonyIRI, which excludes liquor
stores and Walmart.
The brewer is said to want ideas for marketing that aren't
confined to just ads, but extend to content, packaging, events and