AB InBev readies “punishing” global media review

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Brewing giant AB InBev is reported to be reviewing its $4.8bn global media account, just two years after it chose Dentsu’s Vizeum in the US and an assortment of other holding company agencies around the world.

To make life even more fun it’s said to be offering “punishing payment terms” to the fortunate winner, leading to speculation that the big holding companies might gang together saying “enough is enough’ (or, rather, isn’t enough) and refuse to compete.

It’s all rather redolent of the recent Disney review ($3bn worth) which went to Omnicom and Publicis. Then the story was that the winning agency had to promise Disney properties a bigger share of their overall spend, hotly denied by all parties.

In truth these things are always going to about driving down the price whatever well-meaning consultants (there probably are some) might say.

AB InBev’s massive expansion via a series of deals for big established brewers (it owns Budweiser for example) has left it with a dominant position in a struggling market as people turn away from mass produced beer to other drinks.

$4.8bn is a lot of money, even for a company with $50bn sales. Sooner or later it will surely be broken up again. In the meantime some (possibly) reluctant media agencies are going to have to take the strain.

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