Skip to Content
Alumni profile

Monica Rustgi, MBA ’13

Super Bowl­–scale moments, brought to you by beer
October 24, 2019
Monica Rustgi, MBA ’13
Monica Rustgi, MBA ’13
Monica Rustgi, MBA ’13NYC CInema Studios

What do Budweiser and Jennifer Lopez have in common? Both have benefited from the creativity of Monica Rustgi, MBA ’13.

Rustgi is Budweiser’s vice president of marketing, setting the company’s brand positioning and communications strategy. Her team is also responsible for Budweiser’s sales performance, bringing national campaigns to life at the regional and store level.

But Rustgi got her start as a musician, signing a deal with Grammy-winning producer Cory Rooney while in college at New York University. She recorded an album under the name Monica Rush, titled The Simple Life—a blend of electro-funk and pop—and wrote songs for artists including Pitbull and J-Lo.

“I was dreaming of becoming a household name, not because I wanted the fame, but because I wanted my music to reach people,” she says. Despite some early successes, she sensed her music career wasn’t headed in the direction she wanted—and realized how much she enjoyed the business side of her artistic pursuits. “It was a startup. I was selling myself as a brand,” she says, but “I was done with being the brand.” She decided business school could help her shift into advertising and marketing. She chose MIT because she saw in its students “people who wanted to change the world,” she says. “They weren’t driven by money but by purpose, and for me, that was it.”

With her Sloan degree, Rustgi moved through several brand manager and brand director roles at Anheuser-Busch InBev, where she took the VP position in September 2018. The same month, she landed on Ad Age’s 40 Under 40 roster.

Rustgi says moving into the world of beer has created opportunities she didn’t have as a songwriter and performer. “Budweiser is a part of American culture,” she says. “I now have the resources and the megaphone through the brand to reach and impact people the way I always wanted to.”

In marketing as in music, she says, authenticity matters: “A lot of brands and maybe even people in the world aren’t clear on who they are. People can sense that.” So she focuses on stories that show Budweiser’s corporate values. She led the team that delivered 2018’s “Stand by You” Super Bowl campaign about the company’s practice of donating water in the wake of natural disasters. This year’s spot, “Wind Never Felt Better,” highlighted Budweiser’s use of renewable energy.

Rustgi also aims to create new “Super Bowl–scale moments” around themes meaningful to consumers—for example, launching a campaign celebrating fans of the National Women’s Soccer League (“We Won’t Stop Watching”) and a Father’s Day spot on the importance of stepdads. “To be a good creative, you need a very strong sense of empathy,” she says.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

seeing is believing concept
seeing is believing concept

Our brains exist in a state of “controlled hallucination”

Three new books lay bare the weirdness of how our brains process the world around us.

We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.

Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.