Now AB InBev launches Draftline in-house agency

Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (Budweiser and Bud Light among others) is joining the rush to set up a fully-formed in-house ad agency.

The agency has grown from an in-house unit handling Michelob Ultra to one which will pitch for work across Ab InBev’s 42 brands. Dubbed Draftline, the agency has grown since May 2018 from a digital and social agency working on Michelob Ultra to potentially working across all 42 AB InBev brands. Services include TV production, packaging, Out of Home, radio, email and data collection and programmatic media buying.

CMO Marcel Marcondes told Ad Age: “We’re not doing this to create competition, it’s to do more….the more we grab consumer insights by data, the more we feel confident about what we need to say and which kind of products address the needs of consumers. This is the fuel for good creativity; that with agility, can take us to a better place.”

The move, as with others, is not such a threat to the likes of Wieden+Kennedy as an in-house agency is unlikely to come up with something as off-the-wall as ‘Dilly Dilly’ and W+K is structured to work on a project basis too.

But it looks like another nail in the coffin of the Agency of Record arrangements which have sustained Madison Avenue and big agencies in other parts of the world for decades.

One of the problems with in-house agencies is always said to be recruiting and keeping talent in a one-horse town. But AB InBev has enough brands to suit most people and, in any case, it’s becoming increasingly common for even senior agency creatives to be hired to work on just one big account.

With the big ad holding companies cutting staff numbers dramatically as they adjust to reduced circumstances (WPP’s merged Wunderman Thompson has made two rounds of redundancies in the US already) there’ll be plenty of people who see an in-house agency as a better bet.

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About Stephen Foster

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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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