Bud’s advertising: Drink it in while it lasts

June 13, 2008


What would a combined InBev/Anheuser-Busch do with advertising? It’s one of the questions already being tossed around in the wake of InBev’s $46 billion bid for the brewer of Bud and Bud Light.

One obvious problem for Anheuser-Busch, which spends about $475 million each year on advertising, is that their marketing focuses heavily on the idea of being an All-American beer and company.

That may not play so well when you’re owned by a company based in Belgium, we reported.

As Ted Parrack, chief strategic officer of Colangelo, a Connecticut-based marketing agency, told us: “How do Americans think about beer? Guys make beer. Corporations don’t make beer. Something called InBev makes Budweiser? And there’s nobody named Busch around? What?”

The Wall Street Journal brought up Anheuser-Busch’s big sports marketing efforts, writing that they could be cut back.

One area that is potentially vulnerable is sports marketing. Anheuser, one of the largest sports marketers in the world, spent about $300 million last year for sports sponsorships, up 11% from the year earlier, according to IEG, a Chicago-based research unit of WPP Group that tracks sponsorships.

Anheuser is affiliated with dozens of sports, from baseball to equestrian competitions. It sponsors sports leagues big and small, including Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and Major League Lacrosse, and even the U.S. polo team. This summer, the company is one of the official beers of the Beijing Olympic Games.

But we think the best headline about the deal goes to The Nashua Telegraph, which splashed “This Bud’s for vous” across its business pages. The New Hampshire paper talked to Nashua resident Rob Masek.

“(He) envisions the Belgian takeover of an American beer having the same affect as when German auto manufacturer bought out the U.S.-based Chrysler. People stopped buying Chrysler cars because of the perception it was a weaker product, he said.

Masek can see people attending a NASCAR event questioning those who would dare drink a Belgian beer. ” ‘What are you doing? It’s un-American,’ ” Masek imagines the conversation going.

We’ll see how this one plays out. In the meantime, sit back. Have a cold one.

Keep an eye on:

  • The head of Tribune Co’s publishing division and publisher of the Chicago Tribune is retiring, a week after the company’s new leaders said they would overhaul their newspapers to cut costs and try to attract more readers as they struggle with dismal advertising sales and falling circulation (Reuters)
  • A controversial push by the Screen Actors Guild to defeat a recent accord negotiated by a rival union has touched off an open rebellion within Hollywood’s largest actors guild (Los Angeles Times)
  • News and information company Bloomberg LP could be a hotly contested asset if a stake went on the block, although the most likely buyer was seen by some as founder and billionaire Michael Bloomberg himself (Reuters)
  • News Corp’s MySpace plans to launch a global redesign next week in an attempt to widen its demographic and boost user engagement on the site (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

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