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Beer mega-merger is partly down to marketing failures

Here’s the FT’s view of the market shares of the big brewers, a matter of some interest as the world’s biggest – Anehuser-BuschInBev, itself the result of a mega-merger – seeks another with second place SABMiller. This would create a $250bn beer behemoth.

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On the face of it you wouldn’t think there’s a cat in hell’s chance of it going through, surely various competition authorities will object. But the key chunk of the pie chart is the 40.4 per cent share of ‘others.’

This will include some conventional smaller brands but also so-called ‘craft’ beers, many made at home through cheap technology. And, as my friend George Parker, to whom I always genuflect in these matters, points out, these actually taste of something. Actually George doesn’t put it as politely as that.

It doesn’t say much for the combined efforts of some of the world’s supposedly top marketers and their agencies that these mighty companies are being walloped by amateur home brewers. Although most of us will applaud.

But when did you last see a really good beer ad? Some time in the last century possibly.

Wieden+Kennedy, which has produced more than a few good ads in its time, has won ABInBev’s signature Bud Light brand (George reckons it’s not made of beer by the way).

I suspect beer quaffers at W+K’s Portland HQ wouldn’t be seen dead drinking the stuff, before the account moved in July anyway. But business is business.

Maybe now there’s going to be an even bigger opportunity for W+K in the beer market. But it looks like the brief from hell.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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