How InBev Treats The King

Privilege belongs to the titans of industry. It’s part of the package, as it were. Expensive dinners, golf outings, fine hotels, first class tickets or a ride on the corporate jet–it’s all part of the deal. So, imagine the surprise Anheuser-Busch executives received upon discovering that InBev is the Wal-Mart of beer.
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According to The Wall Street Journal, construction crews arrived at One Busch Place a few months ago and demolished the ornate executive suites at Anheuser-Busch Cos. In their place the workers built a sea of desks, where executives and others now work a few feet apart.

  • Managers accustomed to flying first class or on company planes now fly coach.
  • Freebies like tickets to St. Louis Cardinals games are suddenly scarce.
  • Most employees, even those at the company’s Sea World and Busch Gardens theme parks, got free beer. Not anymore.
  • The company will halt contributions to its pension plan for salaried employees in 2012. And in January, it will stop providing retiree life insurance.
  • A-B has cut the number of BlackBerrys for employees to 720 from 1,200.
  • The brewer is reducing the number of new ads created per year to 50 or 60 from about 100.
  • And they’re taking 120 days to pay their bills.

It’s more effective to make “sweeping, dramatic changes” than incremental ones, said a spokeswoman for the Belgian company.

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About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.