Dec 04, 2009 at 05:39 PM
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A-B/InBev Gets Local With World Cup Sponsorship

In 2006, German football fans protested when Budweiser debuted as the official beer of the World Cup. With InBev acquiring Anheuser-Busch in 2007, the combined beer giant plans to take a more local approach to 2010 by designating little known eastern German label Hasseröder, as the official beer of the 2010 World Cup in Germany.

From Spiegel Online:

After reportedly paying $40 million to sponsor the tournament, Anheuser-Busch, still an independent company [in 2006], found itself on the wrong end of vehement protests from German beer drinkers. They called the beer, which has a lighter flavor than German beer, "dishwater," and were so offended by the prospect of drinking American beer that they even set up a Web site with a picture of an American eagle, the symbol of the brewery, vomiting. Making matters worse, Anheuser-Busch couldn't use the terms "Budweiser" or "Bud" in Germany because of legal trademark battles with Czech brewer Budweiser Budvar and German brewer Bitburger, respectively.

In 2010, Hasseröder will get the sponsorship rights in Germany while Anheuser-Busch will retain the rights in most other countries.

"We are maximizing our sponsorship in order to connect with beer drinkers. In certain markets where our global flagship brand is unavailable, or one of our local brands already has an existing football association on par with the passion of World Cup, we believe the added flexibility, such in the case of Hasseröder, allows us to further bring a truly amazing global event even closer to home," said Eelco van der Koll, Global Director of Sports & Entertainment for Anheuser-Busch InBev, in a statement to SPIEGEL ONLINE.

As consolidation continues in a variety of industries, look for sponsors to find new ways to divide and allocate assets to local and niche brands that connect with fans on a deeper level.