MEXICO CITY:  AB InBev, the global brewing company, will attempt to speak to Mexican workers planning to cross the border to the US for a life of poorly paid work by offering the opportunity to become small business owners selling the brand’s beer.

Grupo Modelo, a subsidiary of AB Inbev, needed a way to reinvigorate its ailing Modelorama retail chain. Meanwhile, the President of the United States’ anti-immigration platform, with the promise of a wall, was dominating headlines across the border.

Daniel Haskell, business unit head of Modelorama, told Ad Age about how he spotted the opportunity to speak meaningfully to the brand’s home nation. “Why don't we launch the brand through an initiative that lets people know in an impactful way that they don't have to go to the other side of the wall to find opportunity?”

So far, the progress of the initiative has been strong, with two or three stores opening every day.

The opportunity for people to become franchisees becomes clear in light of the grim economics of illegal immigration. Haskell explained to the magazine that smugglers’ fees run between $4,000 and $20,000. Becoming a Modelorama franchisee, however, costs just $5,000.

The advertising for the initiative focused on the plight of workers who leave their families behind to work in the US, decisions taken, the brand suggested, because people don’t believe there is sufficient opportunity in Mexico.

In an online film based on interviews with both franchisees and AB InBev executives, the brand aims to make clear that there is a future for families in Mexico, that there is a Mexican Dream to rival the American version.

This is achieved by AB InBev supplying the infrastructure, store, and energy; the empresario (franchisee) then buys the beer and runs the store. Around 90% of sales come from AB InBev products.

Next week, the brand will launch its first social campaign to raise awareness of its offer: “Sabemos de Cerveza”. Future developments for the brand include an extension of the Modelorama Premium ‘beer boutique’ shops in the short term. In the longer term, the brand could roll out an Uber Eats program, delivering beer in the capital, following a successful pilot.

While the story of Mexico’s economy has developed in the shadow of its rich northern neighbour, recent reports show growth forecasts improving, despite Trump’s protectionist rhetoric, as domestic demand has remained strong and the weaker peso has benefited manufacturing exports.

Data sourced from Ad Age, Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff