When you’re the Chief Marketing Officer for Anheuser-Busch’s leading beer brands like Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob ULTRA, your work touches a lot of lives. And Marcel Marcondes doesn’t take that responsibility lightly. As one of the world’s most influential CMOs and an AdWeek 2021 CMO Awards honoree, Marcel is known for leading with purpose and is a vocal advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, or as he puts it, “always putting people first.” 

Marcel Marcondes, Chief Marketing Officer, Anheuser-Busch

Why does diversity and inclusion matter to you? 

Diversity and inclusion is not an exception or a niche. It is life as it is. We must reflect the diversity that we see in the world within our organization to truly engage with consumers. To be best-in-class we must understand people, all people, completely. Anheuser-Busch is here to lead in growth, and to be a consumer-centric leader that addresses problems and comes up with innovative solutions, you need diversity of thought and background. You need representation inside and outside the company. 

Why is diversity and inclusion important for the beer industry? 

It’s true that beer has a lot of stigmas and myths, and many are anchored in facts. Beer has been seen as masculine, criticized for its portrayal of women, and not representing diversity and inclusion. We need to learn from the past and create a much more inclusive beer industry. I believe we have a special role in this because our company’s purpose is ‘bringing people together for a better world’. Bringing people together is our reason to exist. I expect nothing less than for us to lead by example so the next generations see themselves included and invited to participate in our industry and our business. 

What are you doing to brew change at Anheuser-Busch? 

I love our employee resource groups. They make people feel included, foment real conversations and are also great sounding boards for our marketing teams. For example, our LatinX resource group, AB Inspira, had a big say in how we planned Reventón de Verano, a virtual festival celebrating Hispanic music, culture and community. I’m a Latino, and even I learned something about the nuances between our different national cultures to better connect with those consumers. 

I’m also proud to have Anheuser-Busch join the adfellow program to bring more diversity and gender inclusive talent to our advertising and marketing teams. Additionally, I’m a board member of the AdWeek Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council and together we created an executive program where leaders - including eight from Anheuser-Busch - mentor diverse marketing talent to help them progress in their careers. 

How are you changing the industry? 

Personally, I’m very interested in connecting with different groups that are focused on having these conversations. Many of us are looking for the same answers and we have more similarities than differences. I see that a lot as a board member of the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM). We share dilemmas, solutions and the more we learn from one another, the better we are at making real change. 

The outcomes of these conversations lead to things like our recent work to have more diverse directors working on our marketing campaigns. Of the 87 ads filmed for this year’s Super Bowl, only 8 had a woman or person of color behind the camera – and 3 of those spots were from A-B brands. 

Michelob ULTRA’s “Happy” was directed by Spike Lee, and was one of just 8 Super Bowl spots this year directed by a person of color or a woman. 

We also are a founding member of AIMM’s #SeeHer and #SeeAll initiatives to promote inclusive advertising. Budweiser was our first brand to step up with an International Women’s Day campaign addressing gender stereotypes in its advertising from the 1950s and 1960s. This is how our people and our brands are leading by example, big time. 

As part of AIMM’s #SeeHer initiative, Budweiser refreshed some of its ads from the 50s and 60s to showcase women in more balanced and empowered roles.

What can people do to help? 

There are two things I’ve learned. The first is that you must be honest about what needs to change. If your first response is to defend yourself, the people you are trying to reach will be defensive too. Honesty and open conversations are how you make a difference. 

And second, don’t think of diversity and inclusion as an exception. This is real life. I don’t do ‘diversity and inclusion’ and ‘marketing’. I do marketing. And if it’s not diverse, if it doesn’t make everyone feel included, then it’s being poorly done. Period. 

For us at A-B, it all comes back to bringing people together - preferably over a nice beer. This is what we do, it’s what we stand for. We belong in this conversation and we will be a leading voice. 

AB InBev is taking action within our company, with our brands and across our value chain to be a more diverse and inclusive company, where everyone feels comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. As the leading global brewer, we also have an important role in brewing change in the industry to better reflect the diverse perspectives of the millions of consumers who enjoy our products. There’s more to be done, and we are committed to being transparent about our progress and to hold ourselves accountable. Together we can create a better, more equal world for all. Read more on how we are brewing change at AB InBev and the beer industry, from our colleagues Tiffanie WaltonJorge Garcia and Cassie Vincent