Did Budweiser Fire This Ad Agency Because Its Founder Is A Mormon?

bud light logo

Photo: Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch InBev just axed ad agency McGarryBowen from its most prestigious account—the $270 million Bud Light business—in part because shop founder Gordon Bowen is a Mormon, and thus presumably cannot drink his client’s product, according to longtime ad blogger and BI contributor George Parker.McGarryBowen did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We’ll update this item if we hear anything.

Here’s AB InBev’s official statement:

Your speculated premise is entirely false…. To streamline our marketing efforts, we have decided to consolidate all Bud Light advertising responsibilities with Translation.  As a result, we have notified mcgarrybowen we are ending our relationship.  We thank mcgarrybowen for their efforts on behalf of the Bud Light brand and wish them all the best.

Fair enough. After all, why would AB InBev hire McGarryBowen in the first place if Bowen’s religion was going to be a problem? (Bowen is a Mormon, by the way, and he has been linked to Mitt Romney.)

The business was consolidated at Steven Stoute’s Translation after McGarryBowen had spent just eight months on the roster. In that time, the agency got only one commercial approved.

Ad Age noted that McGarryBowen lost the business only after Bowen, the chief creative officer, stepped in himself to rescue the account.

There’s one other pertinent factor here: Advertising is a business of relationships. It’s also a business frequently done over drinks and dinner. And it’s a universal given that agency executives should use their clients’ products. (David Ogilvy once said, “I always use my clients’ products. This is not toady-ism, but elementary good manners.”)

The fact that Bowen may have been unable to sit and sup with his own biggest client cannot have helped.

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