'World's first global beer' hunts agency

InBev, the company created by the merger of Interbrew and Ambev, sees an opportunity in the fragmented beer market.

Agencies are being lined up to pitch for the task of creating the world's first truly global beer brand.

The contest follows the marriage earlier this year of Interbrew and the Brazilian brewer Ambev, a merger that created the world's biggest brewer by volume.

Now the merged company, InBev, plans to attempt what has never been done before by creating the beer equivalent of Coca-Cola.

Although the InBev stable includes Stella Artois and Beck's, the brand chosen to go global is AmBev's Brahma, which currently has no presence outside Latin America.

At present Brahma, whose domestic advertising is handled by Saatchi & Saatchi, is not even Brazil's biggest-selling beer. However, InBev chiefs are said to believe the brand will be attractive to other markets and particularly to younger drinkers, who can identify with South American culture.

Until now, the only Latin American beer with a major profile beyond the region has been Corona, made by Mexico's Grupo Modelo, in which the US brewer Anheuser-Busch has a 50 per cent stake.

Industry sources say up to four agencies, three from Britain and one from the US, will pitch for the assignment in New York early next year.

Brahma would be positioned as a premium brand, selling at a significantly higher price and producing better margins than local beers.

The world beer market is currently highly fragmented. Even Bud Light, the best-selling brand, has barely 3 per cent of the global market.

"The world beer market is still made up of lots of local brands," an insider said. "Now InBev wants to flex its international muscle and see if it is possible to have a beer that can be promoted the same way around the world. The US is a huge market, but so are Europe and the Far East."

However, Brahma can expect a tough fight to penetrate a US market dominated by Anheuser-Busch and Miller.

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