Anheuser-Busch InBev, the brewer, has yielded numerous benefits through the capabilities of draftLine, its in-house agency which has a presence in multiple nations around the world.
Tracy Stallard, global vp of draftLine, discussed how it has taken clear “ownership” of various goals and responsibilities at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2020 In-House Agency Conference.
In its simplest terms, “‘ownership’ means that, ultimately, we’re here to sell more beer and to make sure that our business is here in 100 years,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: AB InBev in-house agency delivers alignment legacy shops can’t match.)
Drilling down further, Stallard said “draftLine works on solving the business problems and the consumer problems that our teams have … This is what sets in-house teams apart: Working for the goals that the company has.”
Having initially launched with a mid-2018 pilot program in Colombia to serve as a small in-house digital/social agency, draftLine now has over 500 staff working in offices in Buenos Aires, London, New York, and Shanghai.
AB InBev still has formal relationships with an estimated 50-plus external agencies, including Wieden+Kennedy (Bud Light), FCB (Michelob Ultra), plus the David unit of Ogilvy and VaynerMedia (Budweiser).
“If you want to work with Wieden+Kennedy, then hire them,” Stallard said. “We do and we think that they're awesome. But draftLine also is very focused on trying to do something inherently different.
“You have the freedom to do things differently – to question the whys, to think about different ways of putting pieces together, to consider different processes that can run different types of work output.”
Greater in-house capabilities have enabled AB InBev to augment its customer knowledge and learn from a wide range of campaigns in holistic ways, for example.
While agencies excel at the tasks they are given by brands, too often these responsibilities are focused on issues that are limited in scope – and with remuneration that is not connected to hard outcomes.
“Agencies primarily are hired to work on brand problems,” Stallard said. “But, at an agency, most of the compensation scheme is based on the volume of work rather than the volume of beer that sells.
“That can push us in the wrong direction sometimes,” she added, and even “make us produce maybe too much of the wrong work.”
Sourced from WARC