Not content with being named Creative Marketer of the Year in 2022, AB InBev has pulled off a first with its second honour in two consecutive years — the first brand to achieve this feat in the 70-year history of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity
AB InBev’s Marcel Marcondes: “It’s never just about the beer”
RESPONDING to his company’s second Creative Marketer award at yesterday’s opening seminar, Marcel Marcondes, chief marketing officer at AB InBev, said that the 2022 win had been “a dream come true for the entire team”. To still be living that dream in 2023, he added, is the most “meaningful and flattering” proof that AB InBev’s approach to creativity is not only successful but, more importantly, sustainable.
And the journey never ends, Marcondes stressed, sharing the five key things that AB InBev has learned along the road to success in Cannes. First, use creativity to drive growth. Second, use it to solve real consumer and business problems: “If you’re doing creativity for the sake of creativity, you’re in the wrong business.” Third, build a sustainable system within your organisation that allows creativity to grow and flow. Fourth, be ambitious but stay humble: “Remind yourself you’re not as good as you think you are”. And lastly, believe: “Believe in yourself, your people and your partners.”
Marcondes was also quick to address the transgender elephant in the auditorium. Earlier this year, Bud Light forfeited its top spot on the US beer market following a promotion featuring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Sales of Bud Light and Budweiser dropped almost 25% amid a backlash from US conservatives. “It’s been tough to see all the controversial and divisive debates around Bud Light,” Marcondes acknowledged. “In moments like this, brands must be driven by their values and we believe beer is for everyone. But it’s been an important wake-up call to all us marketers to be humble — and that’s what we’re doing, being very humble. It also taught us that we really need to understand our consumers and celebrate all of them, but in a way that brings them together not drives them apart.”
Marcondes urged the audience to “never forget about page one of the book: making great marketing that makes brands distinctive.” Marketing, for example, like Budweiser’s extraordinary pivot 48 hours before the 2022 World Cup when, in a sudden change of policy, Qatar banned the sale of beer near the stadiums, destroying at a stroke the official sponsor’s most ambitious global campaign ever. In response, Bud announced it would donate unsold beers to the winning country — Argentina — turning a major blow into a marketing triumph. In a similar vein, Brazil’s Bramha created the Foamy Haircut, consisting of a creamy white top over golden lower locks, to maintain its connection with football after its beer was banned from stadiums.
Marcondes summed up AB InBev’s purpose as “creating a future with more cheers”. He added: “We do beer, which is a big privilege. Beer is present in our lives at all those meaningful moments. It’s never just about the beer — it’s about being together.”