This Company Thinks the Sponsorship Model Is Broken, but It Has a Plan

Anheuser-Busch InBev's Joao Chueiri connects brand and consumers

Joao Chueiri joined Anheuser-Busch three years ago from Nike. Anheuser-Busch InBev
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Joao Chueiri believes the sponsorship model is broken, but he’s thinking ahead. Currently, he’s on a mission to revamp how Anheuser-Busch InBev approaches sponsorships. Next year, he’s planning to launch the company’s in-house content factory, Bud Studios, with a new sponsorship structure in place.

Chueiri joined Anheuser-Busch three years ago from Nike, and in that time, he’s had three different roles. In April, Chueiri was named vp of consumer connections at Anheuser-Busch InBev, where he oversees media, digital, sponsorships, events and the company’s work to promote the beer category at large. “My job is to use [A-B InBev’s resources] to connect our brands with people in innovative and relevant ways and keep raising the bar within the marketing industry,” explained Chueiri.

“Joao isn’t just changing the playbook for how our brands engage consumers—he’s writing an entirely new one,” noted Marcel Marcondes, U.S. CMO, Anheuser-Busch. “From Bud Light and Budweiser to Michelob Ultra, Anheuser-Busch has some of the most talked about brands in the U.S., and Joao is a big reason why.”

Glowing words, but what does that actually look like? If you’re a fan of John Mayer or Lady Gaga, you might have heard about Chueiri’s work. An intimate event like Bud Light’s Dive Bar Tour using a consumer’s passion point—in this case, music—to drive a deeper connection with a brand is exactly what Chueiri is tasked with spearheading. The company already works with big music festivals like SXSW, Lollapalooza and Stagecoach and has partnerships with many U.S. sports teams, as well as the MLB, NBA, NFL and PGA.

While Chueiri’s role existed before he joined the team, he’s given it a different scope. “My focus, overall, has been to bring people and passion points to the center of our strategy,” Chueiri explained. “We are now reshaping our sponsorship strategy—moving from a focus on sports and music to a broader scope based on consumer passion points while also having a hyperlocal mindset. I’m leading an evolution of our media principles, bringing occasions and passion points to the center of our media planning and truly leveraging media as a tool to create differentiation across the brands in our portfolio.”

With the 2018 launch of the company’s in-house content factory, Bud Studios, Chueiri’s goal is to “not just maintain our leadership in earned media among the beer industry, but become the benchmark for capturing consumers’ attention no matter the category.”

Curriculum Vitae
Vp, consumer connections, Anheuser-Busch InBev (U.S. media, digital, sponsorships, events and beer category)
April 2017 – Present

Global vp, marketing, Anheuser-Busch InBev (core brands and category strategy)
July 2016 – April 2017

Marketing director, premium brands, Anheuser-Busch InBev (Corona, Stella Artois, Budweiser)
September 2014 – July 2016

Marketing director, Rio 2016 Olympics, Nike
July 2014 – September 2014

Marketing director, Brazil 2014 World Cup, Nike
December 2012 – July 2014

Job Profile
At A-B InBev, Chueiri is looking to make a lasting impact when it comes to the way the company’s brands make connections with consumers. His work as vp of consumer connections—where he is charged with working on media, digital, sponsorships, events and promoting the beer category at large—will impact how all of A-B InBev’s brands use people’s passion points to make more meaningful connections with consumers.

How He Got the Gig
Chueiri joined A-B InBev in 2014. During his first year, he worked in Brazil with A-B InBev’s premium international brands, including Corona, Stella Artois and Budweiser. In 2016, he became the global vp of marketing on A-B InBev where he tried to “elevate” the company’s core brands. Chueiri said the role provided “a deep understanding of the common challenges we face no matter where our consumer lives on the planet,” which aided him the next year, when he moved to the U.S. to become the head of consumer connections. “That’s what I love about Anheuser-Busch—it’s only been three years since I joined the company, but I’m proof that we believe and invest on our people,” he said.

Words of Wisdom
“Be curious. Be close to the people you are trying to build brands for. I try to always surround myself with people younger and better than me so I don’t lose sight of what is new, what is hot, what is happening in culture. I feel that is my responsibility as a marketer,” said Chueiri.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 27, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.