One thing’s for sure. People’s expectations for brands have changed, but our playbook for marketing had not.
In the United States, the beer industry has been under pressure and to get it back to growth, we need our brands to be relevant to consumers. But, as marketers, we know this doesn’t come easy; earning people’s attention and affinity for brands has become harder and harder to do. Business as usual isn’t going to cut it. If the way people engage with brands has evolved, shouldn’t the way we build our brands evolve too?
So, we looked at what was holding us back. And, one of the biggest obstacles appeared to be…us. Our culture, to be precise. Aspects in the way we worked and the way we thought. We, inadvertently, became a barrier. We decided to put creativity at the forefront to catalyze a cultural change from within. In doing so, we created a dedicated team called Marketing Culture & Learning, which has architected a modern approach to brand building capabilities and creative excellence. Essentially, we’ve created an environment where our people and partners are empowered to bring and activate bold ideas in three simple ways: Inspire, Apply and Celebrate.
One of the first programs we launched is Spark Sessions. Once a month we stop what we’re doing to learn from admirable leaders outside of our company, to spark creative thinking and behavior. Earlier this year, we kicked off our new partnership with the ANA’s ‘#SeeHer’ initiative to bring a more inclusive approach to our marketing efforts, providing our people with the right resources and guidance to more accurately portray women in beer advertising. Within a week, Budweiser launched a campaign for International Women’s Day in which we recreated a few of our print ads from the 1950’s to better represent women in more balanced roles. The campaign generated 50 million impressions in one day and helped to build relevance with women and Budweiser again.
Inspiration is critical, but it’s like spilled gasoline unless it’s put into action. That is why creativity is now fully embedded into our marketing routine and performance targets. In an effort to accelerate creativity to drive growth and competitive advantage, we rehauled our approach to creative excellence, in partnership with Cannes Lions. They help businesses to iconize their brand and make a step change in the effectiveness of their communication and performance. This collaboration supported us to establish new capabilities to break down the barriers that limit our creative ambition.
Great work, and the people behind great work should be celebrated and in turn serve as inspiration for others to keep raising the bar! We’ve increased our participation in the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, while our internal Creative X awards program cultivates and celebrates creative excellence as a business growth driver. Once a year, we recognize breakthrough ideas and activations, reminding us to strive for originality and effectiveness in every creative effort we undertake. In 2018, our US Marketing team was recognized as the most creative team within the global AB InBev organization – a testament to the culture we’re building.
And it’s working. We’ve seen significant progress in our employee engagement, as well as more award-wins for our creative work at Cannes Lions, and business growth across our portfolio of brands.
We believe creativity is the catalyst for change. It starts with the power and ambition of your people, establishing a strong creative culture for growth. By building winning teams that develop winning work will build winning brands. And for us, it’s just the beginning.
Anheuser-Busch is taking part in Cannes Lions Advisory, the consultancy service that provides a year-long program for invited companies who want to change the game in their level of creative effectiveness. Cannes Lions Advisory supports businesses to iconize their brand and make a step change in the effectiveness of their communication, efficiency in their investments and performance.
Jodi Harris, vice president, marketing culture and learning, AB InBev