Richard Oppy

Richard Oppy: how AB InBev is adapting its marketing

July 14, 2020
By Alana House

Richard Oppy has revealed how COVID-19 has shaped AB InBev’s marketing strategy in the United States and globally.

Oppy was appointed Global VP for Global Brands at AB InBev, including Corona, Stella Artois and Budweiser, in 2018.

Previously he was AB InBev’s Vice President Marketing, Asia Pacific South. The born-and-bred Melburnian worked with Carlton & United Breweries for almost 18 years. He now lives in New York with his wife and three children under the age of 12.

Oppy noted during a video interview for Campaign that some major new trends have emerged from lockdown.

“What we’ve seen is a shift towards direct-to-consumer sales,” he said. “This has always been a very small channel for beer, but what we’ve seen is an explosive growth.”

Oppy said he had never previously ordered beer online, but joined Drizly and received a delivery in half an hour. He predicted that consumers who have shifted to online purchasing will continue to do so moving forward.

He also highlighted several COVID-driven campaigns that had worked well for the brewer.

Stella Artois launched a “Stella Sessions@Home” series on Instagram to entertain self-isolating consumers, while also raising money for restaurants and bars. 

Stella Artois

Actress Eva Longoria, chef Marcus Samuelsson and others provided cooking classes and information on how to support local eateries during the crisis.

Stella Artois also ran a campaign that gave customers the chance to pre-pay for meals and drinks at restaurants, with the brand matching the amounts. The initiative raised more than $7mllion.

“Restaurants will remember forever how Stella Artois helped them,” Oppy noted.

Michelob Ultra challenged Twitter users to share videos of their best indoor golfing trick shots to help raise money for COVID-19 relief. 

Michelob Ultra

It also ran a series of online personal training sessions for people not able to go to the gym, with a virtual tip jar for trainers. Oppy said the personal trainers involved made more money from the tips than they did from their regular jobs at the gym.

The “Movement by Michelob Ultra Live” series stream every Thursday on Michelob Ultra’s Facebook Live, Instagram Live and YouTube Live channels, followed by a virtual happy hour that let viewers ask trainers questions about health and fitness.

Another proud initiative for Oppy was a Budweiser ad that he said brought a little levity to those struggling with home isolation.

The brand re-recorded the audio for its iconic “Wassup” 1999 advert – featuring famous basketball stars – to make it more relevant to people in lockdown and encourage them to connect with friends and family.

Home isolation brought AB InBev team closer together

Oppy said that there had been unexpected upsides to his marketing team working from home.

He noted that having all staff members meet via Zoom, rather than some being in the office and some joining the meeting virtually, had been a positive experience in terms of team building and outcomes.

“We’re working better than we ever have and it’s brought us much closer to the market,” he said.

He also said weekly “happy hours” with the wider team had been great for staff morale and had created a sense of community.

Watch Oppy’s full interview below:

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