Cannes Lions 2021: A Look Back at 2 Years of Cultural Shift & Creative Transformation

Posted: June 24, 2021
Cannes Lions 2021: A Look Back at 2 Years of Cultural Shift & Creative Transformation

It's been two years since the last Cannes Lions Festival — since our teams had a moment to celebrate our most compelling and innovative marketing campaigns. During that time, we've all witnessed how the role of brands has been deeply changed by the pandemic. But through these seismic shifts in our culture and society, AB InBev's deep-rooted focus on consumer-centricity has allowed us to continue showing up for our consumers and communities when they need us most.

“Our capacity to respond to fast-changing consumer needs is thanks to our focus on finding creative, disruptive ways to enter conversations and offer people something relevant and future-focused. We know there's no playbook for a changing landscape, which is why we consistently invest in innovation,” said Pedro Earp, Chief Marketing and ZX Ventures Officer at AB InBev. “We're excited to gather virtually with our colleagues and peers at this year's festival to learn more about how they're adapting to meet the moment.”

Years in the making, the creative transformation that's enabled AB InBev to focus on our stakeholders' most urgent business needs during the pandemic spans every aspect of how we interact with our consumers and customers, from initiating connections, to delivering solutions. In a challenging landscape, we've maintained resilience by leveraging our fundamental strengths as a company, and capturing the benefits of investments we have been making for several years in rapidly growing platforms. As the pandemic drove the world apart, we had the tools we needed to stay connected to consumers, and continue growing our business in spite of uncertainty. The end result? More value delivered back to the people our business is here to serve.

The innovations we've accelerated over the past few years will not only allow us to continue driving our efforts in support of pandemic recovery, but also to impact culture with extraordinary creative thinking — all central to the spirit of the Cannes Lions Festival.

Scaling Disruptive Technology

Since 2015, we've been scaling our global investment and innovation group, ZX Ventures, which in 2020 delivered its best year of performance with 50.7% growth in net revenue year over year.  With a mandate to invest in and develop new products and businesses that address emerging consumer needs, the pandemic shone a spotlight on the power of this dedicated innovation hub.

For example, as mom and pop stores in South America faced shutdowns due to COVID-19, our teams quickly developed Tienda Cerca, a free, online delivery platform that helped keep small, local stores open across Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Mexico, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Panama and Honduras. More than 60,000 stores registered in three months.

Building Creative Consumer Solutions

In a moment where creatives need to think beyond advertising and focus on building consumer solutions, our in-house creative agency, Draftline, has enabled us to move at the pace of culture and respond rapidly to consumer needs. Launched in May 2019, Draftline uses data-driven insights to produce creativity that is more local and personalized – with greater agility.

Draftline's capacity to deliver positive impact to our consumers and communities has never been more visible than during the pandemic. We're incredibly proud of the teams who have worked around the clock to build creative solutions that are helping communities provide essential care, enabling small businesses to stay on their feet, and connecting people to experiences that uplift them in times of hardship.

Leveraging the Power of Our Brands to Support Our Communities

As we work toward pandemic recovery while navigating continued uncertainty, we remain focused on how our consumers' lives are changing and where our brands play a meaningful role.Throughout the pandemic, we've leveraged the power of our brands to address some of the greatest challenges facing our communities.

In the US, our Budweiser team helped address a critical blood shortage due to COVID-19 with an inspirational blood drive campaign called One Team.The campaign led to 30 stadiums being used for blood drives, 70 days of blood drives completed, and over 5000 units of blood donated – enough to save over 15,000 lives.

As pubs and bars closed across Europe, The Save Pub Life campaign championed people to support their local pub by purchasing a gift card to spend there in the future, but giving the pub the much needed cash now. And in South America, our Aguila beer team encouraged smart drinking during re-openings by using our bottle caps to nudge people to eat something before drinking, alternate their drinks with non-alcoholic beverages, and return home safely.

A Future Powered by Creativity

In the past few years, we've unlocked the power of creativity to transform our business around consumer centricity. And because consumer needs are always changing, our transformation is never finished. We'll continue to future-proof our business by harnessing the creativity, new ideas and the entrepreneurial mindset of ZX Ventures, Draftline, and our portfolio for brands, combined with the resources and optimization of a leading company. We know that resiliency depends on using every resource we have to deepen our connections to consumers now, so we can rapidly adapt to their needs in the future.

We're excited to continue celebrating our latest creative work at this year's virtual Cannes Lions. Follow along @abinbev on Twitter to catch our latest news from the festival.

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