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This Bud’s for Hu (and Flannery, Juan and Bubba)

Post by News Tribune Staff on April 23, 2006 at 12:31 pm | No Comments »
April 23, 2006 12:31 pm

“Bud” and “exclusivity” generally don’t roll off the tongue or down the throat.

But, indeed, Anheuser-Busch has exclusive rights to sell and market its beer at soccer’s 2006 World Cup. The one in Germany, where America’s mass brewer has two problems: a legal spat that prevents it from using its most famous brand name; and the fact that Germans hate Budweiser.

So why is Anheuser-Busch letting Bud share soccer’s global marketing stage with Bit, a popular German brew?

The Wall Street Journal reports on the fancy footwork as Anheuser-Busch dreams of drumming up dollars from the beer-drinking soccer fans in 189 countries who will be glued to their tubes when the games begin June 9. Here’s the gist of the story, available online only to Journal subscribers, but cribbed from the weekend print edition:

If Anheuser-Busch insisted on enforcing its exclusivity, it was clear it would annoy some Germans who wanted to drink German beer and generate bad publicity for the company. Executives decided it was more important to get the Bud brand in front of fans world-wife than to make Germans drink their beer.

While only 6.4% of Anheuser’s revenue is generated outside the U.S., it’s a highly profitable business, generating 22.7% of net income in 2005. Budweiser isn’t as popular overseas as it is in the U.S., but Anheuser has about 14% of the market in Ireland and is trying to increase sales in Europe, Latin America and Asia. …

So Anheuser officials undertook an unprecedented act or beer diplomacy. …

[An Anheuser-Busch marketing executive] proposed letting Bitburger sell its beer along with Bud at the stadiums and at some promotional events. In return, the American company would gain the right to use the name Bud, instead of just Anheuser-Busch, on billboards along the fields –- and visible to viewers watching on TV at home.

Anheuser-Busch said says it will spend more on World Cup Advertising and marketing than it did at the Olympics or Super Bowl.

Even though its flagship beer will be sold as “Anheuser Busch Bud” (Bitburger’s Bit will be drunk in generic cups), the publicity is priceless.

“World Cup makes the NFL Super Bowl look like an amateur event when it comes to creative advertising,” the chief marketing guy at MasterCard, a major World cup advertiser, told the Journal in an earlier, publicly digestible story.

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