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AB InBev thinks like a marketer, acts like a producer

News, 27 July 2017
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CANNES/NEW YORK: AB InBev, the US beer-brewing conglomerate, is shifting the focus from advertising through interruptions toward creating content that will attract people by pitching series ideas to channels and creating spectacles that people will want to put onto Instagram.

This is according to Jonny Sabbath, AB InBev’s head of entertainment, who, addressing an audience at Cannes, explained that entertainment was central to its brands’ communication strategy, beyond simply creating ads. (For more, subscribers can read the report: AB InBev: ‘Think like a marketer, act like a producer’)

A common mistake among brands trying to create entertainment, he said, was the tendency to take an idea for a 30-second spot and try to turn it into content. As a result, Sabbath observed, “what we have is a sea of content that people do their best to ignore.”

Instead, he advocated pursuing “culturally relevant” ideas that could exist on channels other than the pre-roll or the ad-break. For instance, he spoke about an activation with Golden Road, an LA-based craft brewery that AB InBev recently acquired.

As one of the city’s most significant craft brewers, the brand’s creator, Meg Gill, was receiving offers from agents asking if she wanted to tell her story through them. Instead, the conglomerate saw it’s chance. “So we pitched it to Vice,” Sabbath said.

Together with Vice’s cable TV network, Viceland, they “developed a proprietary travel series where she’s telling the untold stories of home brewers,” Sabbath said. Unlike an ad that would go out between primetime shows, the project was a primetime show.

“I measure success in how many people choose to watch what I’ve delivered,” he stated.

“People actually want to go watch it and then we can build ads on the back of that to help sell Golden Road. So we’re not starting with a hypothetical thing that lives in a PowerPoint slide, we’re starting with a piece of content that would have existed even without us, and then building ads around that.”

Meanwhile, other partnerships, take a “rich, beating heart idea,” as was the case with Stella Artois and Cirque de Soleil, Sabbath noted. It a simple mantra to “do stuff that makes people want to take out their phones and take a picture,” he said.

“We just need to create moments that are memorable and Instagrammable.”

Data sourced from WARC

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