Budweiser hires Deutsch for global soccer marketing

IPG shop adds to its AB InBev portfolio

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Scene from Bud's 2018 World Cup campaign
Scene from Bud's 2018 World Cup campaign Credit: Budweiser

Anheuser Busch InBev has tapped Deutsch New York for a Budweiser global soccer marketing assignment, according to people familiar with the matter.

The brewer declined to articulate the scope of the project. But the win puts the Interpublic-owned shop in the position to potentially work on Budweiser's sponsorship of the World Cup, which won't be played again until 2022. MDC Partners-owned Anomaly handled the 2018 World Cup for the brewer, and remains Bud's global agency of record, although it no longer works on the brand in the U.S.

"Following Budweiser's most successful 2018 World Cup Russia campaign as the most-talked-about brand on digital and social platforms, we want to build on this momentum and engage with consumers in more creative ways," the brewer said in a statement, when asked about the Deutsch assignment. "We are exploring a new agency model to balance traditional and disruptive marketing. "

Anomaly's campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was played in Russia, included a drone-filled ad and the real-life deployment of noise-activated Budweiser Red Light Cups. The effort covered more than 50 countries and was described by the brewer as the largest campaign in its history.

On an earnings call earlier this year, executives cited positive results from the Anomaly campaign. But AB InBev still opted to run an agency review for future soccer work. The decision came under new global Chief Marketing Officer Pedro Earp, who was announced as the new CMO in July, replacing Miguel Patricio. Deutsch joined the brewer's roster in 2016 when it won the Busch brand account in the U.S.

Budweiser has moved to a multiple-agency model in the U.S., tapping VaynerMedia, David and Mosaic for various projects, including Super Bowl advertising.

The next World Cup will be held in 2022 in Qatar, which presents unique challenges for Budweiser and other sponsors. For one, alcohol is not part of the culture in Qatar, where it is illegal to drink in public. According to a recent report by BBC, alcohol will be available in hotels, but "it will be up to FIFA to decide if alcohol will be available in stadiums."

Also, the 2022 event has been beset with controversy, including the alleged exploitation of migrant workers building stadiums in Qatar. Also, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, a fact that could increase pressure on sponsors to take a stand on the issue.

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