October 25, 2011 5:26 pm

AB InBev renews Fifa World Cup sponsorship

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer by sales, said on Tuesday that it had extended its sponsorship of the Fifa World Cup in 2018 and 2022 as part of its ongoing efforts to make Budweiser the dominant global beer brand.

AB InBev did not disclose the financial terms for the deal, but called it a “significant investment” and a central part of its strategy of bringing Budweiser to an international audience. Budweiser has been a Fifa sponsor since 1986 and will now have a strong presence at the upcoming tournaments in Brazil, Russia and Qatar.

“The brand stands for the American dream in a bottle, and there’s a lot of fertile ground to connect Budweiser in that spirit,” Chris Burggraeve, AB InBev’s chief marketing officer, told the Financial Times.

AB InBev recently launched Budweiser in Brazil and Russia and has been investing heavily to promote the brand globally as it tries to stabilise sales in the US.

Mr Burggraeve said that the World Cup audience dwarfs that of the Super Bowl in the US, noting that the final match attracts 700m people, or five times that of the American football championship.

“The sheer scale is incomparable to any other global event,” he said.

The agreement comes as Fifa has been under pressure from sponsors after bribery allegations surrounding the World Cup bidding process. In May, Adidas, Fifa’s sportswear sponsor, said “the negative tenor of the public debate is neither good for the sport of football nor for Fifa as an institution and its partners”.

Mr Burggraeve said that AB InBev shared that concern but that “the corruption chapter has long been closed”.

Ian Shackleton, a beverage analyst at Nomura, said that AB InBev, which is based in Belgium, is wise to focus on emerging markets because Budweiser has had difficulty gaining in western Europe, where people prefer more bitter beer.

“They’re trying to make Bud their global brand, and having the World Cup gives them a good platform,” Mr Shackleton said.

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