The 2006 World Cup begins on June 9th, 2006 and runs for one month, through July 9th. Unfortunately, many Americans will find themselves feeling completely left out of this truly worldwide event. Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, but it does not exert the same drawing power here as it does in the rest of the world. Ah, but the times they are a-changin’ and leading that charge is Beer. When Americans think of football, they think of the Super Bowl and all of those great beer commercials that premiere during each year’s telecast. However, when Europeans and South Americans think of football, they are truly focused on what we call soccer, and brewers in those regions know that if you want to sell beer, soccer is the sport of choice.
This year’s World Cup is being hosted by the entire country of Germany. Amazingly, one of the major sponsors this year is Anheuser-Busch, the brewers of Budweiser. In order to gain worldwide appeal, A-B is spending multiple millions to sponsor soccer events in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Germany’s Bitburger brand will also have a role in advertising the 2006 World Cup.
For some time, A-B has sponsored various soccer events in this country, including a variety of beer cans saluting the World Cup. A great number of commemorative items (such as tap handles in the shape of a soccer ball, various wearables, lighted signs, metal tackers and bar mirrors) have been issued by A-B to promote soccer in America. The majority of these collectables were issued when the U.S. hosted the World Cup in 1994.
The Tortoise & the Beer
Certain brands of beer have become famous simply through their sponsorship of national teams. For example, many soccer fans know the Q on the Argentinean team stands for Quilmes, the largest selling beer in Argentina.
In Brazil, it is Brahma that soccer fans know. An animated turtle pitchman turns into a soccer superstar and steals a can of Brahma beer that falls off of a beer delivery truck. In Canada, Molson has even named their energy-spiked entry Kick; its packaging features graphics reflective of a soccer theme.
For years now, Carlsberg’s marketing divisions in both Denmark and Canada have produced hundreds of soccer-themed pieces of advertising. One memorable Canadian piece required you to collect roughly 50 different bottle caps. Each cap depicted a different country participating in the World Cup. Carlsberg has even issued a cooler shaped like a soccer ball.
From Manchester to Mexico
In England, great collectibles (such as coasters and even soccer balls) have been issued by Boddingtons, from the home of Manchester United. For years, Newcastle Brown Ale served as the sole sponsor of the Newcastle United team. Their Black and White jerseys have led them to be named the Magpies. Jerseys featuring Newcastle’s Brown Ale badge logo are as sought-after as the jersey of Ben Roethlisberger in this country.
South of the border, Mexico’s Tecate Cerveza has also produced some incredible commemorative beer cans honoring the sport of soccer, as well as soccer-themed trays, tap handles, neon lights, and bar mirrors. Taste the passion soccer fans the world over feel and you’ll quickly realize that this is a sport loved and understood by beer drinkers.
Let the matches—and the collecting—begin.