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Brew master I

International stars shared Stella Artois in Hainan. Alexander

Lambrecht, director of global

brands for AB InBev APAC, discusses the beer's success

n October, Belgian premium beer company Stella Artois sponsored the 2012 Mission Hills World Celebrity golf tournament on Hainan

Island, a tournament that rolled out the red carpet for international stars such as Hollywood's Adrien Brody and Andy Garcia. Alexander Lambrecht, director of global brands at AB InBev APAC, dis- cussed the beer's success at the Mission Hills tour- nament and its entry into China’s high-end bever- age market.

What did Stella Artois deliver as the sponsor of the Mission Hills tournament in Hainan? We introduced Stella Artois to a broader audience in a very sophisticated, very affluent environment. All the guests attending the tournament had the opportunity to enjoy Stella Artois served by one our Stella Artois world draft masters, one of the best bartenders in China. And to the broader audi- ence, we introduced the brand in a limited and sophisticated way.

How does the tournament fit into launching Stella Artois in China? We have accelerated the support and the launch of Stella Artois since last year in China. In order to do so we are continuously looking for platforms or activities that enable us to interact with our very affluent consumers. When we came across the Mission Hills opportunity, it was an automatic fit between the people attending the tournament, the people playing golf, the people going to the Mis- sion Hills clubs and resorts. It is a very important recruitment and introduction platform for Stella Artois in China.

What kind of presence does Stella Artois have in China? We have had a presence for a long time in China through collaboration with some great importers and distributors. However, since last year, we have

started activating the brand through our AB InBev network. Te brand has become very important in the AB InBev portfolio and will equally get the support it deserves in order to build the brand in the right way. And that’s why since last August, when it joined AB InBev, we started with a focus on Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

Where will Chinese customers find Stella? Today, we are primarily focusing on the high-end accounts, with a strong focus on high-end night- life, Western bars and five-star hotels. Tat has been the priority at this stage. And so far, the early signs are very, very positive for Stella Artois. Stella is being sold in more than 70 countries around the world. We have a very clear understanding of how we need to introduce the brand in countries, because we’ve done very successful introductions in Argentina and more recently also in the US. We introduced the brand in a very focused area, and that is exactly the strategy we are applying in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. Tis allows us to carefully present Stella Artois with the chalice. We know that we have a winning liquid. We know that the way we present our brand is super pre- mium and very sophisticated.

How did you feel seeing Stella Artois being enjoyed at this prestigious event in China? It’s great to see excitement from not only the sports industry, but also the entertainment industry. As a brand, we are not married to golf. We want to asso- ciate ourselves with very affluent, super-premium properties. Stella Artois has a very strong collabo- ration within films. For instance, we are one of the leading sponsors of the Cannes Film Festival in France. Around the world, we have a diversity of super-premium properties covering both sports and leisure activities. Te diversity of talent from China, Asia and the world present at the tourna- ment was a perfect fit for us as a brand.


China Economic Review • November 2012

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