AB InBev: Creativity can solve people’s problems and marketing should be ‘flying the plane’

The drinks giant set up an growth taskforce last year that meets every two weeks to discuss new ideas and creative solutions for problems.

AB InBev says when it comes to creativity, marketing should be responsible for “flying the plane” as it looks to deal with emerging ‘new normal’ trends.

“We don’t want to just go back to the old normal. We want to make it better, and we want to come back even stronger,” said AB InBev global brands vice-president Richard Oppy, talking at Advertising Week Europe.

He highlighted a number of lessons AB InBev has taken from adapting to the the changing landscape over the past year that continue to inform future plans. These include putting people first, embracing the acceleration to ecommerce, speed over perfection, learning to prioritise and taking action over words.

Oppy pointed to how the company was “fast and agile” by scrapping campaigns that were “no longer relevant” and had the “potential to do damage” to their brands given consumer sentiment at the time.

The company managed to come up with new campaigns at speed and stay agile due to establishing its ‘Ideas for Good’ taskforce in March last year, which brought together expertise from staff across all segments of the business to “harness creativity”.

The pandemic taught us the need for creativity to solve people’s problems.

Richard Oppy, AB InBev

“[Ideas for Good] evolved to become Ideas for Growth and essentially we met as a global marketing organisation twice a week, and people from all around the world had the chance to pitch their ideas and the ideas coming from their agencies,” he said.

The best ideas were then funded by head office and given its success has now become standard practice at AB InBev.

Initiatives like this mean marketing is at the forefront of innovation, enabling it to bring ideas to life in creative ways.

‘Fast and cheap’: How AB InBev is driving innovation

“The pandemic taught us the need for creativity to solve people’s problems. And one thing I love coming out of the pandemic is seeing that [marketing is] in the cockpit flying the plane and really leading the way when it comes to creativity solving people’s problems,” he added.

Creativity also aided the brewer in pivoting from the closed on-trade to the “in-home occasion” trend, something which the company plans to continue pushing as it “accelerated big time” under lockdown.

In Brazil, the company’s ecommerce platform Ze Delivery garnered 17 million new users and it is a trend that is “here to stay” said global brands Europe marketing director Rowan Chidgey.

Meanwhile, she highlighted Budweiser’s ‘Messi 644’ campaign as an example of creating socially relevant campaigns under lockdown. The number 644 represents the record-breaking number of La Liga goals Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi scored for Barcelona.

Beers were sent to all goalkeepers Messi scored against which created responses from the goalkeepers across social media, who snapped pictures of themselves with the bottles.