What did you wake up thinking about this morning? We’re in the middle of our three-year planning process, so I got up thinking about the decisions we had yesterday.
What will define your career in the coming year? We’re continuing to assert a role of influence in the music scene with 50/50/1, our 50 concerts in 50 states program, trying to do something really cool with Bud Light from a musical standpoint. And also, doing year two of Budweiser Made in America. Those are two major initiatives in our business that we’re really inserting ourselves into music. When people looked at what we did last year with Made in America, people were a little surprised at the scale and how successful it became. It was a great festival that created a lot of emotion and connection with the people who were there. It was a great event; topping it is going to be difficult. But we’re trying to be thoughtful in the music, working with Jay Z and making sure we’re bringing that idea to life.
What’s a lesson you learned from a failure? One of the things our company feels very proud about is the quality of what we do from a brewing standpoint. The reputation of our brewers in the industry is very well-regarded. But because of some of the things we’ve done in marketing over the last 20 years, our brands don’t always get the credit. The marketing failed our brewers — the brands are sometimes the most creative guys working hard every day to bring consumers what is technically the finest beer being brewed. The concern is we don’t give them the credit because we have horses in ads and farting and stupid stuff going on. It’s important that you want to entertain and engage the consumer, but you’ve got to do it in a way that engages the consumers and builds your brand. We’ve got to go forward building our brand and building a connection with consumers that maintains the respect of the beer.
Name a project that you’re not affiliated with that has most impressed you in the past year. The Red Bull experience is one, from a marketing standpoint. They’ve done an amazing bit of work and experiential marketing efforts. The thing that people forget is that there was tons of risks that they took. To me, the credit goes to the leadership of Red Bull where they create an event for their marketing organization to come up with fantastic ideas, like, “Let’s put a guy in a space suit and hopefully some guys from the media will give it some coverage.” What I love about the spirit of the leadership is you have to permit people to take risks.
Who was an important mentor in your career? There’s a British gentleman, Peter Hempstead, who had his career at Procter & Gamble and was at Wrigley for a while. The thing he does really well is he really makes you think about yourself and how you assert yourself and how that links to your broader life both in business and your personal life.
Name a desert island album. “Houses of the Holy” by Led Zeppelin, which has “Physical Graffiti” on it.