Building a successful company requires building world-class brands. In the case of our company, this also means putting the best brands in the hands of the best people.
Meet Brian Perkins, the Global VP of Budweiser. From executing new brand initiatives to expanding markets, his job entails top-to-bottom oversight of one of the world’s most recognized products.
“I’m responsible for everything from packaging and design to communications to experiential marketing to innovation to performance management,” says Brian. “We sell Budweiser in 73 countries, and lately I’m really focused on international expansion in places like China, India, Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Korea and Europe.”
Brian’s duties also include taking part in major partnerships for the Budweiser brand, with one upcoming event taking on some extra importance. “The biggest project I’m working on right now is the FIFA World Cup campaign. We’re an official sponsor, and we’re about to launch the biggest campaign in the history of the brand and in the history of AB InBev. We’ve activated in more than 50 countries with many components, including everything from disruptive communication to amazing consumer experiences.”
As the preparation leading up to the big event might suggest, the magnitude of the tournament is clear to Brian. “Nothing will bring the human race together more than the FIFA World Cup. It’ll be the biggest event in the world. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-career thing to be able to work on.”
And while preparing for a major global event has been humbling for Brian, it’s far from the only thing on his docket. “I’m also working on launch and rollout of our Better World platform, which is about renewable energy, and the idea that by 2025, every Budweiser will be brewed with 100% renewable electricity. This is a claim that’s already true in the U.S., and we’ve mapped our way to get there globally in the next seven years.”
Brian credits the global reach of the brand as an enabler to the success of these eco- conscious goals. “The spirit of Budweiser is all about optimism, energy and the belief that the future is bright. It’s powerful to be bringing that to a platform like renewable energy. We sell 41 million bottles of Budweiser a day globally, and that’s a huge opportunity to spur conversations on climate change and how anyone can be addressing it.”
In fact, the products that our company provides are another source of pride for Brian. “Beer has played a huge role in sociability for 3,000 years, and I think in that category we have one of the most iconic brands in the entire world. On top of the cultural principals, I feel great coming to work every day because of the category I work in and the brands I work on.”
Choosing to pursue his career with AB InBev was motivated not by the size of the company’s footprint or its prestige, but by its unique values and culture. “My general conclusion is that most of larger companies are slow moving, bureaucratic, and political, and they weren’t attractive to me [when I was starting out],” Brian says. “From my first interview and interaction with the company, I knew it was a different beast. We have a huge focus on culture, which is the secret sauce that drives the company.”
Brian says he believes a great company can only succeed by hiring the best people, and that the best people are all looking for companies with three specific traits: candor, informality, and the idea of meritocracy. “Maintaining a company culture that isn’t gossipy or political is crucial,” he says. “Informality in our case refers to the lack of a rigid hierarchy, where there’s easy access to everyone all the way up to the CEO, and where decisions can be challenged in a constructive way. But meritocracy still feels like the most important component of all, where the belief that you can totally change the course of your trajectory by the work you put in and the amount of smart risk you take is upheld. If you work that much harder, you will be progressed for it.”
But it’s not just corporate experience that has helped to shape Brian’s values and motivations — influences from early in his life have helped reinforce the values that he’s found in his current role. “My dad came from a finance background, and he’s always been a mentor to me,” he says. “His focus on cutting to the point, being direct with people and being super ethical has always stuck with me. He also taught me that for any good idea, there’s going to be 100 people who say no to it, so never be blind to constructive feedback. Fight for what you believe in, knuckle down, and persevere.”
Even with a busy 2018 in full swing, Brian maintains that some of his most significant work lies way ahead of him. “The FIFA World Cup partnership and our commitment to renewable energy really fire me up, but there’s even more down the line,” he says. “We have an amazing music program which I’m working on. And our commitment to a brighter future for the planet is a job that’s never really finished. It can feel like a lot to accomplish, but after our recent expansion, the brand is flying and it’s so inspiring and humbling to see that.”