The world’s largest brewery, AB InBev, has handed the majority of media planning and buying business to Publicis Media, following a competitive review.
Publicis will work on the brewery’s brands—which include Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois – in the UK and Europe, US, Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe and Asia—accounting for 39 markets and roughly 90% of its business.
Publicis Media is creating a bespoke business unit, ABI One, to handle the media buying and planning business globally. Campaign understands Starcom will be the lead agency in the UK, Europe and US.
Dentsu has been awarded media duties in Canada and Africa, with iProspect the lead agency globally and Dentsu X working on it in Canada. Dentsu said it declined to repitch for the business in the US, where it was the incumbent.
WPP was also involved in a global review that began last year and was managed by MediaLink.
Previously Dentsu’s iProspect held the planning and buying account in the UK and Europe, US, Canada and Africa; MediaCom had it across Latin America; and Starcom in Colombia and APAC.
In APAC, Starcom has worked with the brand since 2013 in China, and covers all of the APAC markets.
"For years Publicis Groupe has been our trusted partner," Matt Che, CMO of Budweiser APAC, said. "As media consumption and consumer choices have changed significantly over the years, our group has implemented a strategic move to enhance full-funnel marketing, enabled by big data and creative excellence." Che added that Publicis' capabilities and collaborative culture made it the ideal partner for Budweiser's Asia-Pacific transformation process. "With our renewed partnership under the global framework, we believe we will harness the digitalisation and innovation of consumer connection to create a future with more cheers,” he added.
Jane Lin-Baden, managing partner of Publicis Groupe APAC and CEO of Publicis Groupe North Asia, said AB InBev is "admirable and innovative leader" that recognizes business opportunities ahead of time and challenges the status quo. "We are very excited to continue our partnership with Budweiser APAC, and we have the ambition of building a new data and tech operation model, in order to stimulate Budweiser APAC’s growth and innovation," she added.
The review was a straight shoot-out between the three incumbent holding groups; the new media planning and buying contracts will last for five-and-a-half years.
AB InBev is one of the world’s largest advertisers and spent more than $5 billion on advertising in 2021. In the UK, its brands also include Camden, Beck’s and Hoegaarden.
In announcing the news, AB InBev said it planned to evolve its approach to media planning and buying by “driving stronger collaboration with our internal teams and agency partners, all with data and creativity at the centre of our efforts” to “deliver measurable business growth through partnership, innovation, effectiveness, and efficiency”.
AB InBev global VP of data and media Luiz Barros said: “More than selecting a media agency, our goal with this review was to choose a transformation partner that can help us to accelerate our journey and deliver strong business growth.
"Publicis Groupe and Dentsu demonstrated over the years working with us the collaboration required, and they invested heavily in new capabilities and talents that will leverage data and technology to allow us to be more innovative, efficient and effective with our media strategies.”
AB InBev’s global CMO Pedro Earp said the media agency partners would help the brewery “deliver our dream of a future with more cheers”.
It is the second major global account win for Publicis Media this week after winning the LVMH media business in the UK and Europe.
Publicis Groupe chief executive and chair Arthur Sadoun said the holding group was “proud” to expand its partnership with AB InBev.
“The strategic work we’ve delivered together, across APAC, LATAM, and most recently with data and technology from Epsilon, has laid a strong foundation for our future together,” he added.
“Now, working globally together, our integrated model and capabilities will help AB InBev further accelerate their transformation.”
IProspect global client and brand president Amanda Morrissey said: “We have had an amazing ten-year relationship with AB InBev, creating outstanding and award-winning work for their brands around the world. As we focus our output in Canada and across Africa, we’re looking forward to continuing to raise the bar on media excellence.”
This story has been updated with quotes from APAC client and agency leaders.