. The Transom .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Greatest Marketing Challenge of the 21st Century

Because of the recent InBev acquisition of Anheuser-Busch, we get to sit back and watch probably the greatest marketing challenge of the 21st century. On one hand, we have an iconic American brand that stands for America as much as it stands for beer. It has been family owned and operated since before the Civil War. It positioned itself against its competitors as truly American when they were bought by foreign interests. It is currently running advertisements all over creation claiming to be "The Great American Lager." It is, as its recent acquiring CEO Carlos Brito panned it, "America in a bottle."

Now on the other hand we have Mr. Brito's company, InBev, an international beer behemoth that is known for keeping brands but destroying acquired companies through extreme cost cutting and cultural gutting. Through whatever reasons, AB let itself be put in the position to be acquired, and InBev was as prepared as any company to do it. Striking quickly and openly, InBev got its trophy.

So the great marketing challenge of course is how to convince the American public that now being owned by a foreign company is a good thing and Budweiser is still the King of Beers, American, family-oriented, etc. Of course, the stockholders don't care. They just made a pile of cash. But is that worth an iconic American brand?

All eyes for the next 12-18 months will be on Anheuser-Busch InBev's marketing department and agencies as they try to achieve the nearly impossible.


  • Hey Rob,
    Great post. I think it will come down to the internal culture. Through the web and and all the transparency that has come through it, we're quickly able to tell the real story.

    There's a new bnet video that describes the different stages of culture at a company and which ones thrive:


    It's really changed my view of companies.

    Hope you're doing well,

    By Blogger Richman, at Wednesday, September 17, 2008 3:39:00 PM  

  • Now that the fat lady had sang, the bottom line is, "Can America be bought in a bottle?" For many St. Louisans, this is a personal blow. I know several friends and acquaintances who have "boycotted" the new Great American Lager simply because of the new owner; however, they are St. Louis folks through and through. "Where'd you go to high school?" is the common question in this group. You get the picture.

    In contrast, in an informal survey of business partners and friends around the country, there is much less loyalty and therefore less concern that AB is no longer St. Louis Owned AB. As long as Bud Select still tastes like Bud Select who cares if it is locally owned.

    So the question remains, "Can America be bought in a bottle?" Ask a St. Louisan and you'll probably hear the answer, "NO". Ask anyone else in our great counry and you'll probably get, "Sure, as long as it still tastes like Bud, it's a Bud to me." WIIFM...Another One Bites The Dust!

    Michelle Rosner

    By Anonymous Michelle Rosner, at Friday, February 20, 2009 3:45:00 PM  

  • Thanks Michelle. I think you're right, if it still tastes like Bud, 99% of the drinkers won't care who owns the company.

    By Blogger Rob Amberg, at Monday, February 23, 2009 8:06:00 AM  

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