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E-Malt.com News article: USA: AB InBev moving some top executives and other jobs to new office in New York
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Anheuser-Busch is opening a U.S. commercial strategy office in New York that will serve as a hub for its sales and marketing operations, with some top executives and an undetermined number of jobs moving from St. Louis, LakeExpo.com reported on December 10.

The news is the latest sign of St. Louis’ loosening hold on the high-powered jobs and creative work long done at the brewer.

Sales and marketing operations for the U.S. and Canada are currently based at the St. Louis headquarters of A-B, the U.S. unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Some area jobs are expected to be transferred to New York, but A-B is still determining how many. The commercial strategy office will ultimately have a staff of as many as 250 employees; field sales and wholesaler support operations currently in St. Louis are not affected.

The New York commercial strategy office will be headed by David Almeida, A-B’s U.S. vice president of sales, and Jorn Socquet, the brewer’s vice president of U.S. marketing.

Senior executives “in the commercial strategy office will divide their time among” New York, St. Louis and other parts of the North American Zone, A-B said in an internal memo sent to employees on December 9 that was provided to the Post-Dispatch. Some sales and marketing jobs are expected to remain in St. Louis.

Belgium-based AB InBev opened an office in New York after its 2008 acquisition of Anheuser-Busch Cos., but the commercial strategy office will be separate from that Manhattan office.

Moving its top sales and marketing executives and other staff to New York will put those employees closer to advertising agencies it works with, including Anomaly, which created the “Puppy Love” Super Bowl ad for Budweiser that won U.S. Today’s Ad Meter this year.

The move will also put the brewer closer to professional sports leagues, including the National Football League and Major League Baseball, that A-B has sponsorship deals with.

The move “will afford us greater exposure to developing trends in a diverse, urban center; proximity to marketing partners ... and close ties with the Anheuser-Busch InBev global functional office in New York,” the brewer said in a statement.

This week’s news also comes just a few weeks after A-B laid off an undisclosed number of St. Louis employees in marketing, finance and other departments. A-B declined to disclose its number of area employees and how many were laid off.

In October, A-B announced a major shakeup of its marketing efforts when the brewer outsourced media planning and buying work to New York-based Mediacom. That work had long been managed by its local operating unit Busch Media.

In August, the brewer also announced its high-end business unit led by Felipe Szpigel would be based in Chicago. In this week’s announcement, however, the brewer said it will move those operations to New York. A part of A-B’s high-end unit, its craft beer operations led by Andy Goeler, will remain based in Chicago.

Bump Williams, CEO of Stratford, Conn.-based consulting firm BWC Co., an adviser to beer retailers and distributors, said moving the sales and marketing hub to New York will make it easier for executives to travel from A-B InBev’s global headquarters in Leuven, Belgium.

“I think it’s being done for the ease of people getting from Belgium to New York,” Williams said. “My only surprise is why they took so long to do this.”

Besides being A-B’s headquarters, St. Louis also is AB InBev’s North American headquarters. Beginning Jan. 1, João Castro Neves becomes AB InBev’s zone president in North America, succeeding Luiz Fernando Edmond, who is taking on a global role at the world’s largest brewer.

An A-B representative called Mayor Francis Slay’s office on December 9 to notify him of the New York office, said Jeff Rainford, the mayor’s chief of staff.

“Anheuser-Busch reassured the mayor today that the latest move has nothing to do with St. Louis and will not have any impact on the North American headquarters being here or its brewery here,” Rainford said.

Rainford said that A-B had between 3,000 and 4,000 area employees and that the December 9 announcement “will not have a major impact on employment here.”

“They’re a major employer in St. Louis, and we have regular conversations with them about what we can do to make their life easier or better here,” Rainford continued.

A-B has struggled to attract millennial beer drinkers ages 21-27 for its flagship beer, Budweiser, which has struggled with market share losses.

“The move to be closer to the sports franchises is more to do with Bud Light, which is the brand they market in sports,” Morningstar analyst Philip Gorham said in an email. “Recently they have done a better job with Bud Light, and the brand has regained a big of share. But they need to continue that and stabilize Bud.”

Bob Lachky, former chief creative officer of A-B, said the move of sales and marketing functions outside of St. Louis was disappointing. Lachky, who left A-B in 2009 after a 20-year career at the brewer, helped create the memorable Budweiser frogs, “Wassup?!” and “Real Men of Genius” campaigns.

“When I was at A-B, we attained record share gains and volume gains with largely Midwest ad agencies,” he said. “We knew that the Midwest sensibility would speak to a broader range of beer drinkers.”

Lachky said A-B InBev executives were “missing the point” by moving oversight of sales and marketing to New York.

“We proved for 20 years that we didn’t need that,” Lachky said.

12 December, 2014

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