Deutsch gains Michelob Ultra global assignment as brew looks for international growth
Interpublic’s Deutsch has picked up a key global marketing assignment for Michelob Ultra as the hot-selling U.S. brew expands internationally.
An Anheuser-Busch InBev spokeswoman confirmed that Deutsch “will be one of many agencies working on Ultra,” but declined further comment on the pitch. Several people familiar with the review, however, said Deutsch beat out FCB London and Gut, a new global independent agency led by several former David executives. FCB Chicago remains Michelob Ultra’s U.S. agency.Deutsch had already been on AB InBev’s roster for Busch beer in the U.S., as well for a Budweiser global soccer marketing assignment. It handles AB InBev brands from its New York office.
The Ultra assignment comes as the brewer attempts to replicate the brand’s U.S. success in other countries. “Michelob Ultra has been the top [market] share gainer in the U.S. for the past four years, among the fastest-growing brands in Canada and has achieved remarkable growth in Mexico for the past couple of years,” AB InBev said in a statement to Ad Age when asked about its global ambitions. “Michelob Ultra has been recently rolled out to other countries and we continue exploring opportunities for this amazing brand throughout our global footprint. We are excited about its potential.”
Ultra, which markets itself as “a superior light beer” with low calories and carbs, has been on a hot streak in the U.S. for years. Shipments grew 14 percent last year as it grabbed about 4 percent market share in the U.S. beer category, passing Corona Extra to become the nation’s fifth-largest beer, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. The beer trade publication projects Ultra will soon supplant Budweiser for fourth place, as Bud sales continue to decline.
Light beers have traditionally been underdeveloped outside of the U.S., where the category was created in 1975 when Miller Lite debuted as the first successful mainstream light beer. However, with health and wellness trends sweeping the globe, Ultra and other light beers are well-positioned to win over more international drinkers.
Ultra is a “super hot brand,” said Beer Marketer's publisher Benj Steinman, calling the brand’s move to expand overseas a “rational play.”