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Budweiser’s Global Advertising Director Speaks

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We would like to thank St. Louis University for the delicious coffee and pastry we enjoyed this morning, as well as for the interesting discussion of Budweiser’s global prospects. That discussion touched off the Boeing Institute of International Business’ conference at SLU today.

Andrew Sneyd, Budweiser’s global advertising director, gave a half-hour presentation to a packed house at SLU’s Busch Student Center. The main theme: how Anheuser-Busch InBev is shepherding Budweiser around the world.

Sneyd is a Canadian whose previous responsibilities under InBev included managing the Budweiser brand in Canada, where Budweiser is the No. 1 beer and InBev brewed it under contract with Anheuser-Busch.

Twenty years ago, the “consolidation” of the beer industry through mergers and takeovers hadn’t even started, he said. Now, Anheuser-Busch InBev is the world’s biggest brewer and has 13 brands with sales of $1 billion or more. It considers three of those brands – Beck’s, Stella Artois, and Budweiser – to be “global.”

Sneyd said Budweiser represents a great selling point across the world. It’s a huge brand, and people see it as international. They notice it and recognize it. It has the “voltage, impact [and] pull power” a brand needs to make it on a worldwide scale, he said. Budweiser is the only beer brand on the global BrandZ ranking of top 100 brands. (It is No. 52.)

In China, the world’s biggest beer market, Budweiser occupies an enviable position. It sells at a price about eight times higher than that of local Chinese beers, Sneyd said. One reason may be that the American brand seems to represent the American dream, which resonates with many hard-working and ambitious Chinese consumers: “Pulling yourself up, anything can happen,” as Sneyd put it.

In a question and answer period, the moderator asked: What about Anheuser-Busch’s reputation, pre-InBev, for sparing no expense and doing things first-class all the way? “All we’re seeing now is cost-cutting, cutting back,” said the questioner, who wanted to know how Anheuser-Busch InBev reconciles InBev’s cost-cutting with Anheuser-Busch’s storied brands.

The merged brewer wants to be “a true owner of the brand,” said Sneyd. “We have an ability to take dollars that aren’t consumer-facing and put them back towards the consumer.”

Sneyd said traditional media, such as TV and radio, “is not dead” despite the proliferation of alternative forms of entertainment. “The best way to get a message out into the marketplace is a 30-second ad,” he said.

But social media like Facebook can’t be treated like an afterthought, cut off from the company’s mainstream advertising efforts, Sneyd said. Anheuser-Busch InBev has to force itself to think of Web marketing first. “It can’t just be part of the annual business planning process,” said Sneyd.

A questioner wanted to know if Anheuser-Busch InBev’s marketing philosophy came from InBev, or Anheuser-Busch. “There’s a tremendous amount of marketing power that Anheuser-Busch had in this country,” Sneyd answered. A year ago, InBev’s marketing blueprint was different. It now incorporates elements of Anheuser-Busch’s “learning,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch InBev has recognized that corporate responsibility – what the company calls “global citizenship” – is “the new frontier of the marketing department,” Sneyd said. Marketers have to be involved in the company’s work in the areas of responsible drinking, recycling, and charitable giving, he said.

“It’s how brands are being judged,” he said.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2:58 pm

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