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It may not be the big deal here that it is in the rest of the world (though you’d never know it from our strangely unrepresentative sample of soccer-crazed friends), but come June the World Cup promises to be one of the most significant shared global events of the year, dominating news cycles around the world and earning corporate sponsors many millions of dollars or euros or lira or pesos or whatever. This year’s winners will include an East German brewery called Hasseröder, which has been selected as the official beer of Germany’s World Cup team.
Now, picking a German beer to represent the German team may seem like common sense, but common sense doesn’t always win out in a world of huge international conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgian-based behemoth that accounts for about 25 percent of the global beer market (or Heineken now that the Dutch company has launched an imperialist campaign in the Americas). In 2006, for example, Anheuser-Busch experienced something of a public relations guffaw when Germans rebelled at Budweiser being selected as the World Cup’s official beer. This time around the company intends not to make the same mistake.
Though Budweiser remains the official beer of the tournament, InBev’s selection of the Hasseröder is meant to calm the ire of German fans who instinctually gag at the idea of drinking a beer brewed from rice. It’s an ironic twist, perhaps, that globalization of the beer business (Anheuser Busch and InBev merged in 2008) could lead to a more acute awareness of these sensitivities.
“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,” the company’s global director of sports & entertainment told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. In other words, they got burned last time and learned from the mistake.