Since 1986, Budweiser has been the official FIFA World Cup beer. The sponsorship awards Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch global rights in the beer advertisement category to both the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
According to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter:
The fact that Anheuser-Busch is extending its involvement with FIFA is testimony to the immense appeal of football as a game and to FIFA as a superior marketing platform for transporting a brand far and wide around the world.
What does it mean to “transport a brand far and wide” around the world?
Budweiser (and Bud Light) is immensely popular in the U.S. home market, but outside the U.S., the brand struggles. Even Belgian-based, Brazilian-run brewing giant InBev knew better than to try infusing Budweiser into global markets.
“Europeans have no interest in drinking watery American beer. Asians generally do not want our beer. It is completely different product,” said one beverage sector analyst when InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch in 2008.
Beer is not like soda. With a few exceptions like Corona and Heineken, beer does not cross borders very well.
But the company has plans to do just that, apparently. Budweiser’s ad campaign around the 2010 World Cup attempts to transform Bud into the “Coke of Beers,” writes AdAge. Ah, but how?
They’re starting by identifying the markets that have high growth potential for beer consumption and that also have hundreds of thousands of pairs of eyes that are riveted on football matches this summer: Latin America, Asia, and of course, all of Africa.
In the African market, Budweiser is not only relatively unknown — given that it has to travel thousands of miles from the UK before it can touch anyone’s lips — but it is one of the few players in an ever-narrowing set of beer companies in which one of the big players is a South African-born company (SABMiller).
Should they duke it out on the football field, perhaps? Or will SAB just gatecrash?
Stay tuned for more on AB-Inbev-SABMiller drama, and yes, reality TV!