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01.2009

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedOnBeerReport

ANHEUSER-BUSCH and INBEV SEAL the DEAL

IT IS THE END OF AN ERA. Ending a run of independence dating back to 1852 Anheuser-Busch has been officially acquired by Belgian brewer InBev. Anheuser-Busch InBev also unveiled its new “identity” which features an eagle in flight – A-B has featured a perched eagle in its logo since the early 187Os. The $52 billion acquisition, announced in November, creates a new entity, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which immediately becomes the world’s largest brewer. The acquisition of A-B ends the independence of one of the most iconic and successful American marketing machines ever built.
After building themselves up into an international distribution powerhouse, Anheuser-Busch revolutionized sports marketing and leveraged the power of mass media to move mass-market brands at a pace few marketers have matched. A-B stumbled a bit as consumer audiences and tastes fragmented, but in recent years it made tremendous strides at selling craft and niche brands through more precisely targeted messages and on-premise sales techniques. But the company’s fate was largely sealed by its decision to forgo acquisitions in developing markets during the 198Os and 199Os, which – combined with the weak US dollar – allowed competitors such as InBev to grow faster and, eventually, move in. A-B initially fought InBev’s bid, but – faced with a hefty premium for shares that had been largely stagnant for much of the decade – it ultimately gave in.

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