Ciao to the World Cup – and Prost!

By July 7, 2006Economy

The World Cup ends Sunday in Berlin with the Italy-France match, and alas, it’s true, the U.S. team departed the competition too, too early. Still, America maintained a dominating presence at the games, thanks to a world-famous, St. Louis-based manufacturer and NAM member, Anheuser-Busch.

So today we raise a glass of Budweiser and pay tribute to Anheuser-Busch, an official sponsor of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. And to find out more about the successful selling of a U.S. brew to World Cup fans in Germany and elsewhere, please read on.

The World Cup of soccer is also the world cup of marketing. FIFA estimates that each match in the tournament drew an audience of more than 300 million. (In comparison, the 2006 Super Bowl was watched by 95 million viewers worldwide.)

Anheuser-Busch has been a World Cup sponsor since 1986, and of course, knows how to market to sports crowds. We won’t go into the all the legal, cultural and competitive challenges the company faced in promoting its global brand in Europe, but it’s fair to say there was some resistance to Budweiser’s prominent place at the soccer tournament from a few beer-loving Germans.

But like all manufactures that succeed in the global marketplace, Anheuser-Busch is persistent. And persistence pays off. (The company won a major victory last month in the European Union, when the Board of Appeal for the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market — phew! — recognized its legitimate claim to use of the Budweiser brand name in Europe.)

Tony Ponturo, vice president of Global Media and Sports Marketing, provided us with a few highlights of the World Cup efforts, noting that the marketing went far beyond Germany.

  • In China, consumer promotions included an under-the-cap promotion with a chance to win tickets to a World Cup match in Germany.
  • Budweiser was sold in commemorative, metric-sized cans, and a specialized TV commercial ran throughout the competition.
  • From February to May, Anheuser-Busch ran its biggest promotion ever in the United Kingdom, with the possibility of prize tickets offered in more than 100 million bottles and can.
  • Anheuser-Busch had exclusive pouring rights at the matches, but worked out a deal with to allow sales of the German brand, Bitburger, as well. In an interview, Ponturo reported that Bud is outselling Bit by 70-30 percent at the games.

    Yes, even though the U.S. squad failed to make it into the second round of this year’s World Cup, a beer made by a U.S. manufacturer still made it through to the final match — and beyond. Anheuser-Busch has won the rights to the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup, as well.

    So, as the 2006 World Cup comes to a close, we salute American manufacturing with a hearty “prost” and wish the U.S. squad better luck in 2010.

    Oh yes: Italy over France, 1-0.

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