A-B's First Woman Marketing Chief Marlene Coulis Leaving

18-Year Veteran Moved Brewer's Super Bowl Humor Out of Locker Room Before Shuffle Reduced Her Role

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Marlene Coulis, the first woman and the first Hispanic to ascend to the top brand-marketing post at Anheuser-Busch, is leaving the brewer after 18 years there.

Marlene Coulis
Marlene Coulis
Ms. Coulis is best known in the industry for her one-year stint at the helm of A-B's advertising and brand-management functions. She was elevated to that post, VP-brand management, during a shakeup engineered by former A-B CEO August Busch III in 2005, as A-B was struggling to deal with market-share gains by then-surging Miller Brewing Co. As part of the move, A-B's longtime top ad man, Bob Lachky, was stripped of those duties but promoted to an industry-development role.

Ms. Coulis was credited with bringing a woman's touch to the brewer's Super Bowl lineup, losing the bikinis and horse-fart jokes in favor of less risqué humor such as a spot about a secret beer fridge. She was named a "Woman to Watch" by Ad Age the following year.

But after August Busch IV replaced his father as CEO, he brought Mr. Lachky back into A-B's advertising fold, this time as the company's chief creative officer, which relegated Ms. Coulis to a lower-profile role focused on brand strategy and positioning.

Most recently, Ms. Coulis served as VP-consumer strategy and insights and innovation.

New brands
In a memo announcing her departure, VP-Marketing Keith Levy wrote that Ms. Coulis was "at the forefront of many of the company's most successful new brand launches, such as Michelob Ultra, Bacardi Silver, Bud Light Lime and Bud Light Golden Wheat."

In a statement, Ms. Coulis said: "I enjoyed many leadership opportunities in my career here, designing strategies for the world's best beer brands and creating new, highly successful brands. It's been challenging, interesting work, and along the way I worked with many extremely talented people. I wish them and the company all the best."

Her departure was one of several personnel shifts in A-B's marketing department announced today.

The company named 22-year A-B veteran Linda Tucker as its new VP-insights. She had been director of consumer insights. Julia Mize, a veteran of the InBev, Bud and Michelob family brand teams at the brewer, was named VP-marketing solutions, with responsibility for strategic planning, licensing management, budgeting, brewery tours and gifts, Clydesdale operations and Grant's Farm.

And Juan Torres, the company's director of Latino marketing, is now senior director of value brands.

All three new appointments will report directly to Mr. Levy.

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