Anheuser-Busch InBev's U.S. media review includes buying responsibilities, the brewer said today in its first confirmation of the search.
A-B InBev first reached out to media agencies in the spring before launching its review in July.
Buying has long been handled by A-B InBev’s in-house group, Busch Media. Domestic media spending on all the company's beers totaled about $575 million last year and exceeded $177 million in the first quarter of 2014, according to Kantar Media. Top brands include Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois and Beck's.
In the review, the incumbent on media planning and research, Publicis Groupe’s Starcom, did not advance to the final round. A-B InBev is now considering a handful of contenders, including Omnicom Group's OMD, WPP Group's MediaCom and Publicis Groupe's Spark. A selection is expected in October.
“We always strive to be the best in all we do, and earlier this year we decided to benchmark our connection strategy and execution,” said Jorn Socquet, A-B’s vp of marketing, in a statement. “After this thorough process, we concluded to partner with a media agency to lead our connection strategy, media planning and buying.”
While the company didn't detail how outsourcing the media buy would impact the future of its in-house buying group, Socquet did say: “We have notified our employees of the changes and are currently looking at how to align our internal resources against this operational change.”