Anchored by the Budweiser Made in America festival, he made Anheuser-Busch the biggest spending brand in music.
Brand sponsorship of U.S. live music and events reached a record high of $1.3 billion in 2013, according to analytics firm IEG, further cementing the importance of marketing dollars as a crucial revenue stream for artists, promoters and labels. Not only was Anheuser-Busch InBev the highest-ranked brand in terms of dollars spent—bypassing Pepsi and Coca-Cola for the first time with upwards of $200 million spent on events and venue sponsorships—it was also the most diverse in its approach.
Not just any company could pull off a sold-out music festival for 120,000 fans (Budweiser Made in America, which grew 50% in its second year), throw 50 concerts in 50 states on one day (Bud Light’s 50-50-1 Music First program with Live Nation) and partner its portfolio of brands with acts like Justin Timberlake (Bud Light Platinum), Zac Brown Band (Landshark Lager) and Kenny Chesney (Corona). A-B brands were also key underwriters of music and entertainment events like the Super Bowl, Grammy Awards, Lollapalooza, iHeartRadio Festival and even Record Store Day in 2013, while Ron Howard’s “Made in America” film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and aired on Showtime in October.
A-B InBev U.S. chief marketing officer Paul Chibe cites the growing importance of creating owned events as the driver of the beer behemoth’s music strategy. “With something like Budweiser Made in America, when you have success in the first year what often happens is people drift away from the original idea that made it a success,” he says, “which is bringing a diversity of music to a diversity of fans to show how music brings cultural barriers down. If there was another festival with more point of view, then I might as well sponsor someone else’s festival.”
A-B InBev will continue its momentum with music for next month’s Super Bowl in New York, where its 5,000-room Bud Light Hotel will host exclusive performances from acts like Foo Fighters, Zac Brown Band, the Roots and Imagine Dragons. Chibe will step down after the Super Bowl, handing the U.S. marketing reins to Canadian A-B InBev vet Jorn Socquet and looking for new opportunities outside of his -company’s St. Louis headquarters.