Starcom Defends Another Key Account in A-B InBev

Brewer review comes amid shop's defense of Samsung

Another major Starcom account is in review.

The agency that's defending its turf in Samsung's global review also finds itself in the hot seat on its Anheuser-Busch InBev business in the U.S., according to sources. Starcom handles research and media planning for the brewer—a plum assignment that the agency landed in 2011.

The move isn't a surprise, given that A-B InBev contacted agencies about the account back in the spring. Still, the timing presents yet another thorny challenge for the incumbent, a unit of Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group. Neither A-B InBev nor Starcom could immediately be reached.

A-B InBev, whose top brands include Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois and Beck's, still buys media itself, via its Busch Media in-house group. Domestic media spending on all brands totaled about $575 million last year and exceeded $177 million in the first quarter of 2014, according to Kantar Media.

The brewer's domestic review follows a series of media pitches outside the U.S., which concluded in the first quarter.

That contest resulted in the split decision, with Starcom landing media responsibilities in China, replacing MediaCom, and Zenith Media taking business in Latin America from Havas Media and UM. In addition, Zenith and Havas successfully defended their assignments in France and Mexico, respectively. The consultancy R3:JLB managed those pitches.

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