A-B's Mobile Initiatives Hint At National TV Primacy



Listening to the top marketer at Anheuser-Busch, it seems pretty clear why major brands shouldn’t be expected to move big dollars off TV anytime soon. So, barring another gruesome recession, networks don’t need to do much tossing and turning even with ratings declines.

Now in his third year at A-B, CMO Paul Chibe appears to be making headstrong efforts to innovate with digital platforms. Perhaps the clearest sign comes in moving the A-B digital team to Silicon Valley, hoping some of its gambling, start-up culture will rub off on a company with roots in 1852.

“There’s a mood and a climate that’s infectious when you go,” Chibe said Wednesday at the MediaPost OMMA Mobile event. “You feel the energy of people who are doing new things, doing different things. They’re doing edgy things and taking risks -- people giving up stability of jobs to take a bet on whether or not this idea they have enables them to make it.”

In the mobile space, A-B has tried all sorts of ambitious initiatives. There was a “Track Your Bud” app aimed at engaging drinkers with the chance to enter a date and code to learn where their bottle was brewed and access multi-media content. (Usage was low and A-B shifted it over to a Web site.)

A-B tried augmented reality to plug Stella Artois several years ago. Last year, it used the technology with NASCAR and Wal-Mart promotions.

It launched a Stella Artois initiative using Google Street View and “Star Trek” star Alice Eve, making it appear as if she were driving to your house to sing at holiday time. (It wasn’t mobile optimized and a re-launch is coming.)

With TV-mobile links, a spot targeting Hispanics with singer Pitbull used Shazam’s tagging method, prompting 60,000 people to access added content, Chibe said. In the 2012 Super Bowl, a Shazam tag prompted 400,000 downloads of an LMFAO remix within minutes of a spot airing.

Chibe is determined not to let A-B get caught flat-footed as mobile consumption grows. “You have to pay attention to history,” he said.

He was referencing what he learned in a previous role at Wrigley. He cited the confectioner failing to take advantage of radio and TV advertising early on and losing market share both times.

Looking ahead as a digital evangelist, he mentioned potential in mobile geo-targeting, where an individual in a particular bar could receive a timely message.

“The amount of money that companies need to put in mobile is going to increase …,” he said. “It looks like there is going to be a lot of money flowing into this area, potentially from other advertising mediums over the next several years.”

And yet, here’s why that amount would seem to be relatively minimal. Like many large marketers, A-B wants reach. And, its infrastructure appears to lend itself to finding that through national TV, which it’s bought en masse for years (notably sports in its case).

“We’re a company that’s set up to do things very big,” Chibe said. “And, so to try to do a bunch of small things becomes very difficult for us to manage from an organizational standpoint, from a complexity (standpoint), a management standpoint, an investment standpoint …

“So, we want big things that have scale, that we can be very efficient in … we’re willing to do a bunch of things to innovate ... (but) at some point they must yield something that is scalable and can be big.”

Intentionally or not, that sounds like a toast to national TV.

1 comment about "A-B's Mobile Initiatives Hint At National TV Primacy ".
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  1. Chris Vinson from Vinson Advertising, May 23, 2013 at 1:04 p.m.

    How about a story on what has happened to Coca Cola. They pulled back on TV to go digital many years ago and it seems to me that I am exposed to 90% less ads from them for the last 5 years or more. My teenage kids are not brand loyal to them at all, and I have lost my loyalty to their brand. Where have their marketing dollars gone and how has it effected their market share?

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