Last month, Anheuser-Busch announced that it would use its production lines to produce hand sanitizer to help consumers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But that’s only one way the world’s largest beer company is changing the way it operates during this crisis.
As the situation has evolved, the company has developed initiatives aimed at helping consumers navigate the new norms of working from home and social distancing. The company is leaning on its owned and earned channels to communicate those initiative and pulling back on advertising, according to U.S. CMO Marcel Marcondes.
Digiday caught up with Marcondes to hear about how the company is changing its approach to marketing, avoiding coronavirus content for advertising and more.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How has the coronavirus changed marketing for Anheuser-Busch?
This last couple of weeks have been very intense. We have been re-planning and re-organizing everything to adjust the entire business to the new reality. The world is going through a different situation. We have to adjust to the new norm. So that’s what we did. To help us as we recalibrate our focus we came up quickly with three principles: Let’s make sure we take care of our people, make sure we can drive normalcy for our consumers and let’s make sure we will come up with tangible initiatives that will add value to society.
Can you give us an example of that?
The first decision we made was to use our production lines to produce hand sanitizers because of the lack of hand sanitizers. The second initiative we came up with was the “One Team” program that we developed and announced with Budweiser along with the Red Cross. So we shifted our sports investment fund from sports because there aren’t sports [going on] anymore to the Red Cross. We’re also bringing together teams and leagues to make more than 20 venues across the country available for the Red Cross to work. [We have many other initiatives across all of our brands.]
So far, what has been the overall impact been business?
It varies by region because the country is still going through different levels in terms of maturity of the virus. We’re still figuring it out. [We do know that] as people stay inside, take a moment to decompress, to relax, that sometimes they have a beer with their meals. So the in-home consumption for our category seems to accelerate.
What about marketing impact?
We’re not playing in the advertising mode. We really want to make sure that anything we do and everything we’ve talked about will be extremely relevant for people so that we can add value to their new routines. This comes with some consequences. TV is being heavily disrupted because there’s a lack of new content being produced. Everything’s shutting down. Still, people tend to watch more TV and now they’re spending more time at home. But what they’re watching is the news. The news is all about the coronavirus, how many people are dying. So we have been shifting some media pressure away from TV.
So you don’t want too much advertising alongside that. So more money going online?
Overall, we are using our media channels to make people aware of the platforms we’re creating for them as they go to new routines. So we have more on digital now. That way we can talk on a one-to-one basis with our consumers about adding value to them and be out of the advertising mode. We are using digital in multiple channels. It depends on the platform.