SBD/January 7, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Top A-B Marketer Keith Levy Leaves Brewer After 24 Years

Levy first joined A-B in '87
Anheuser-Busch VP/Marketing KEITH LEVY has left the brewer "amid sluggish sales of Bud Light and Budweiser," according to David Kesmodel of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. A-B President Dave Peacock in a statement said Levy, whose last day was Thursday, left "to pursue other opportunities." A-B InBev Global VP/Brands & Insights FRANK ABENANTE "temporarily will lead the marketing effort in the U.S." Levy, who joined the brewer in '87, was A-B's "top U.S. marketing executive" and had "led the marketing division in the wake" of InBev's takeover in '08 (WSJ.com, 1/6). In St. Louis, Todd Frankel noted A-B is "being tight-lipped about the sudden departure" of Levy, offering "no explanation." The timing of the departure "is also interesting," considering January is "typically a busy month filled with last-minute changes to A-B's Super Bowl advertising strategy." But A-B and other brewers have "struggled in recent years to reverse declining sales of their major brands." Frankel noted the "head of marketing at A-B is one of the company's most important and high-profile" positions; Peacock once held the title, as did former A-B CEO August Busch IV (STLTODAY.com, 1/6). AD AGE's Ej Schultz noted shipments of Bud Light, the nation's top-selling beer brand, are "expected to decline for 2010 once the final numbers are calculated." Beer Business Daily Editor HARRY SCHUHMACHER said Levy's departure is "not a surprise in so much that Bud Light had another down year." He added, "I would think that priority No. 1 is to stabilize Bud Light. Sometimes it's best to change horses, even midstream, to get the brand rolling again." Schultz noted naming Abenante as Levy's temporary successor "could signal that the brewer might seek a permanent replacement from within its global operation" (ADAGE.com, 1/6).
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