Anheuser-Busch InBev recently announced that it will be launching an in-house agency called Draftline. According to the brand, the US in-house agency has been in operation for a year now. The beer brand has quietly been brewing the company for a year and has finally decided to officially launch it.
Drafltline started in May 2018 as a digital and social agency working only for AB InBev’s Michelob Ultra. They were initially only 3 staff working in the agency but the agency has grown to 55 employees. Draftline has now grown from being a social and digital agency to now offering a range of services. These services include TV production, packaging, out-of-home, radio, email marketing and data collection and fulfilling all programmatic media buying. They also now handle work for all 42 US AB InBev brands. The in-house agency also handles the entire creative and media needs of new brands like Patagonia.
Draftline lives within the same building, a few floors below executive offices, in a coworking space operated by WeWork competitor Alley. The agency plans to move operations up a few floors into the AB InBev-owned offices in the coming year. Though Draftline was launched in the US, it didn’t originate in the US. It actually took off in Columbia, they plan to expand the in-house agency to international markets eventually. According to reports, a Toronto office is already in the works.
What Draftline Means for Other Creative Agency
The rise of in-house agency in recent years has become a major threat to external creative agencies. But according to the Chief Marketing Officer of AB InBev Marcel Marcondes, creative agency’s need not to fret. He says that by moving more creative and programmatic buying in-house in the US. They are freeing up time and focus for the agencies brands to continue to work with. According to Marcondes, they are not creating competition by doing this but they creating opporunties to do more.
The brand currently works with over 50 ad agencies, according to Marcondes, they are treating the brand like any other agency it works with. This means that Draftline will have to pitch for businesses like any other creative agency.
Why the Brand Decided to Launch Draftline
According to Marcondes, the desire to launch the in-house agency came down to a desire to scale more personalized and localized marketing. It also came from a desire to connect consumer data to creative work and have more agility when bringing advertising to audiences. He explained that the brand wants performance to go beyond what they have seen in the past couple of years.