Anheuser-Busch drops OMD to go in-house

Anheuser-Busch, the owner of Budweiser and Michelob, is ditching

OMD UK and taking its £19 million media planning and buying

in-house.



It will be handled from the first European branch of Busch Media Group,

Anheuser-Busch's media planning and buying unit, which will open on 5

November.



Based in London and headed by the general manager, Michael McGough, most

recently senior manager in the US-based Busch Media Group, the European

branch will handle media for all the company's beer brands in the UK and

Europe.



Brands include Budweiser, Michelob and Bud Ice. Recent Budweiser

campaigns - "whassup?" and "lizard and frog" - have been particularly

successful.



OMD UK has been asked to handle the transition of the account, which it

has held since 1996, into Busch's in-house department. It is understood

the agency was given barely a week's notice of the beer giant's

intention.



Andrew J Day, the vice-president and managing director of Anheuser-Busch

Europe, recognised OMD UK's "excellent work" in helping to build

Budweiser into a leading premium brand in the UK.



However, he added: "Integrating our media buying and planning with our

in-house sponsorship and brand marketing operations creates strategic

efficiencies and has proven to be a successful formula in the US."



Tony Ponturo, the group vice-president for corporate media and sports

marketing, also said the move was an extension of the company's US media

strategy.



"This is another example of using our corporate assets and experience

developed in the United States to benefit our expanding international

business," he said.



Busch Media Group was founded in 1985 to handle Anheuser-Busch's

national TV and local radio buying in the US. It added local TV, print,

outdoor and sport sponsorship in 1992.



In the US, Budweiser has a number of major sponsorships with

professional sports teams, including the National Football League, Major

League Baseball and National Basketball Association.