Publicis Groupe, Dentsu Land AB InBev's Media

Jacqueline Barba
Digital Editor
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ab inbev

Anheuser-Busch (AB InBev) has awarded the bulk of its global media planning and buying business to Publicis Groupe and Dentsu, following a competitive review launched in September 2021. Publicis, which acquired CitrusAd last year, will work on AB InBev’s business in the U.S., Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe and Asia, while Dentsu will work on business in Canada and Africa. 

AB InBev’s review was open to incumbents only and included Publicis Groupe, Dentsu and WPP, the latter receiving the short end of the stick this time. The beer giant conducted its last major review in 2017. Publicis and Dentsu both received five-and-a-half-year (or 66-month) deals with AB InBev, spanning 40 countries, effective July 1.

According to international research consultancy COMvergence, AB InBev spends $873 million a year on measured media. About 37% of that spend is digital, and North America accounts for an estimated $514 million of the total, about 30% of which is digital.

"More than selecting a media agency, our goal with this review was to choose a transformation partner that can help us to accelerate our journey and deliver strong business growth," said Luiz Barros, AB InBev’s global vice president, data & media, in a memo shared with Path to Purchase IQ. "Publicis Groupe and Dentsu demonstrated over the years working with us the collaboration required, and they invested heavily in new capabilities and talents that will leverage data and technology to allow us to be more innovative, efficient and effective with our media strategies."

The awarded agencies will be AB InBev’s strategic partners in accelerating its business transformation. The manufacturer plans to evolve its approaches to media planning and buying, according to the memo, driving stronger collaboration with internal teams and agency partners with data and creativity at the center of its efforts.

"We are extremely proud to extend and grow our long-standing media partnership with ABI,” said Arthur Sadoun, CEO and chairman of Publicis Groupe, in the memo. “The strategic work we’ve delivered together, across APAC, LATAM, and most recently with data and technology from Epsilon, has laid a strong foundation for our future together. Now, working globally together, our integrated model and capabilities will help ABI further accelerate their transformation."

In related news, Publicis Groupe, WPP, Interpublic and most recently Dentsu have all disclosed plans to stop business and investments in Russia because of the country’s invasion into Ukraine. Publicis began ceding the ownership of its agencies to local management on March 15.

"Since the start of the invasion, we have been working on exiting Russia as we strongly condemn the unilateral aggression against Ukraine," Sadoun said in a recent news release. "By ceding control of our Russian operations to Sergey [Koptev, founding chairman of Publicis in Russia] we are securing a future path for our colleagues while immediately stopping all of our operations, engagement and investment in Russia."

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