CANNES, France — It was meant to be an inspirational seminar about how Anheuser-Busch InBev, the only company Cannes Lions has named Creative Marketer of the Year two years in a row, harnessed creativity to help drive business growth.
And it was—for the most part.
On Monday, Marcel Marcondes, AB InBev’s chief marketing officer, explained how AB InBev has shifted from a company that acquires brands to one that grows them before a full theater at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. His presentation featured clips highlighting work from Corona, Brahma and Budweiser’s sponsorship of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“If we just do creativity for the sake of creativity, we’re in the wrong business,” said Marcondes while on stage at the Palais.
Unwilling to avoid the controversy surrounding its Bud Light brand, however, Marcondes dedicated some time near the beginning of his keynote to address the situation.
“It’s tough to see all the controversial and divisive debates happening in the U.S. the last couple of weeks involving lots of brands and companies, including, especially, Bud Light,” he said.
Marcondes stressed brands in this situation should remain open to learning and do a better job of what they claim to do on a daily basis: understand their customers.
“When things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers to be very humble,” he added.
Bud Light’s backlash
For those unfamiliar with the uproar, Bud Light’s troubles began in early April when transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a short video on Instagram promoting the brand. The partnership prompted a segment of the public to boycott the beer.
Bud Light’s response to the backlash—putting two marketing executives on leave; issuing a statement that didn’t mention Mulvaney or voice support for LGBTQ+ individuals—upset yet another group of consumers.