AB InBev Anticipates Heavy Sports Marketing Calendar For 2024

The world’s leading brewer will be betting big on sports marketing for 2024, thanks to an especially packed calendar of big events this year.

That "is going to make this an incredible summer for beer,” said ABInBev CEO Michael Doukeris during an investors call yesterday after market close, following the release of its Q4 and 2023 annual earnings.

ABInBev reported a 7% increase in EBIDTA for 2023, and 6.2% growth for Q4, compared to the previous year.

As many sensationalist headlines underscore, the company’s growth came despite continued losses for its Bud Light brand domestically, in the wake of an organized  boycott over its one-time engagement with a trans influencer last April.



ABInBev reported a revenue decline of 17.3% in the U.S. for Q4, which the company attributed largely to Bud Light’s volume decline – which it also cited as the primary driver of a 9.5% U.S. revenue decline for the year as a whole.

During the investors call, Doukeris addressed a question regarding the rate of Bud Light’s recovery by saying that while it’s “not at the fast pace that we were expecting or that we've been working for,” the brand was “making progress,” estimating a recovery rate of around 10-20 basis points every three to four weeks. 

The company invested heavily in marketing the brand in the latter half of the year into 2024, including NFL marketing capped by a major Super Bowl campaign, and the brand’s recent UFC sponsorship contract.

“We increased the media investment behind our brands,” Doukeris said. “We expanded our long-standing partnership with Folds of Honor, including bringing the NFL and Bud Light together to also support first responders.”

Doukeris stressed the role of these significant marketing investments in ABInBev’s performance during the call. “In 2023, we invested $7.2 billion in sales and marketing and have averaged more than $7 billion over the last 5 years,” he said. “These consistent investments, combined with increased effectiveness and creativity is driving the brand power of our portfolio.”

Looking ahead, he noted this summer’s especially packed schedule of major sporting events, citing the South American soccer tournament Copa América and UEFA European Championship cup; major tennis tournaments, including the French Open, for which its Stella Artois brand now serves as an official sponsor; and the Summer Olympics.

At the same time, he said he anticipated marketing spending to be “very balanced throughout the year,” thanks to UFC activations throughout, and the brand’s usual push for the NFL season.

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