Starcom on alert as Inbev plots review of 20m media account

Starcom Group has been put on alert by drinks giant InBev, which is gearing up for a review of its £20m media planning and buying account. The agency has worked on the business for 16 years.

An InBev spokeswoman confirmed that discussions are taking place with the agency about the future of the account, which includes Stella Artois, Castlemaine XXXX and Tennents.

The company says it has a “long and fruitful relationship” with Starcom. It adds: “Although happy with the service, we are considering putting our  media buying work out to pitch”. It has also confirmed that Starcom will be invited to repitch if a full pitch is called.

The InBev spokeswoman says that the potential review is not connected to the current restructure of InBev’s UK sales and marketing operations, which was revealed in Marketing Week (October 19). That restructure, the second in a year for the marketing team, is expected to be completed in a month’s time.

It is thought that InBev may be looking at its media planning and buying because it has recently decided to switch a significant amount of its spend into below-theline advertising.

A month ago, when InBev and BBH parted company, an InBev spokeswoman said that the company was redirecting spend to “point of connection” marketing activities, including direct marketing,

sales promotion, interactive and trade marketing. InBev was formed in an

August 2005 deal through the merger of Belgian brewer Interbrew and Brazilian company AmBev. Interbrew had already taken over The Whitbread Beer Company in May 2000 and then Bass a month later, although it had to sell some Bass brands, including Carling to what is now Molson Coors. Starcom was a Bass agency.

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