Anheuser-Busch was the official beer sponsor of the last World Cup, held in Germany in 2006. They didn't think their cunning plan all the way through...
When Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006, the country was awash in fuzzy feel-good patriotism. Only one thing threatened to ruin the party – crappy American beer.
In the months running up to the football tournament, panic spread through the nation after it emerged that the US beverage corporation and FIFA sponsor Anheuser Busch would only allow its official World Cup beer Budweiser to be sold at the matches. Rumours even circulated of a 1-kilometre-wide Bud-only zone around the stadiums.
Germans became gripped with such a bad case of “beer fear” that the sensationalist newspaper Bild even declared: "Watery Yankee beer in the 12 stadiums? No way!"
In the end it didn't happen because the makers of the German beer Bitburger raised objections when Budweiser attempted to shorten its name to "Bud" for World Cup advertising because of a legal dispute with a similarly named Czech brewery. This, Bitburger decided, was much too close to its marketing nickname "Bit."
Fearing a wider fiasco as German football fans raged against having American beer forced upon them, Anheuser Busch eventually relented and agreed to sell Bit next to Bud at all official World Cup stadiums and events.
This time around, Anheuser-Busch InBev is the official beer sponsor, and they've taken a more global tack.
When Argentina hits the pitch, viewers will see ads for Argentine beer Quilmes. Brazilian matches will feature Brahma. Germans fans will see ads for Hasseröder, an old East German favourite from a small town in Saxony-Anhalt.
Hasseröder's official reasons offer an insight into the ruthless targeting of market strategies. "We're a proper man's brand, and we represent male friendship," says spokeswoman Claudia Klehr. "At the same time we are among the ten most famous sports sponsors in Germany." Hasseröder sponsors a number of different sports teams, including the Bundesliga club Hannover 96.
Klehr declines to compare the new strategy to 2006, but she says, "Anheuser Busch InBev has found an intelligent way to use the FIFA sponsoring rights as efficiently and synergistically as possible."