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Brewer banishes Bud to crown Hasseröder official World Cup beer

Ben Knight · 23 Jun 2010, 14:57

Published: 23 Jun 2010 14:57 GMT+02:00

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When Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006, the country was awash in fuzzy feel-good patriotism. Only one thing threatened to ruin the party – crappy American beer.

In the months running up to the football tournament, panic spread through the nation after it emerged that the US beverage corporation and FIFA sponsor Anheuser Busch would only allow its official World Cup beer Budweiser to be sold at the matches. Rumours even circulated of a 1-kilometre-wide Bud-only zone around the stadiums.

Germans became gripped with such a bad case of “beer fear” that the sensationalist newspaper Bild even declared: "Watery Yankee beer in the 12 stadiums? No way!"

In the end it didn't happen because the makers of the German beer Bitburger raised objections when Budweiser attempted to shorten its name to "Bud" for World Cup advertising because of a legal dispute with a similarly named Czech brewery. This, Bitburger decided, was much too close to its marketing nickname "Bit."

Fearing a wider fiasco as German football fans raged against having American beer forced upon them, Anheuser Busch eventually relented and agreed to sell Bit next to Bud at all official World Cup stadiums and events.

The combination of being forced to change the name of its leading brand, and then having to share its prime market with a local favourite, made the 2006 World Cup a marketing disaster for the US brewer, particularly in view of the reported $40 million it had paid for the sponsorship rights.

But the international beer industry has apparently learnt its lesson for South Africa 2010. Anheuser Busch has since been taken over by Belgium’s InBev to create the biggest brewer in the world. The combined company has a 25 percent share in the global beer market, 13 international beer brands and countless regional brews.

Accordingly, AB InBev has decided to use this network of local brands to handle its World Cup sponsorship deal instead of trying to have Budweiser quench regional tastes.

Quilmes for Argentina, Brahma for Brazil

When Argentina hits the pitch, viewers will see ads for Argentine beer Quilmes. Brazilian matches will feature Brahma. Germans fans will see ads for Hasseröder, an old East German favourite from a small town in Saxony-Anhalt.

But why not one of the better-known German beers in AB InBev's portfolio such as Beck's, Franziskaner, or Löwenbräu?

Hasseröder's official reasons offer an insight into the ruthless targeting of market strategies. "We're a proper man's brand, and we represent male friendship," says spokeswoman Claudia Klehr. "At the same time we are among the ten most famous sports sponsors in Germany." Hasseröder sponsors a number of different sports teams, including the Bundesliga club Hannover 96.

Klehr declines to compare the new strategy to 2006, but she says, "Anheuser Busch InBev has found an intelligent way to use the FIFA sponsoring rights as efficiently and synergistically as possible."

Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, spokesman for the Association of German Brewers (DBB) isn’t sure if there is a direct connection between the German beer drinker slap-in-the-face during the last World Cup and the new regional marketing plan. But he is keen to point out how diverse the German beer market is.

"We have 1,327 breweries in Germany, producing around 5,000 beers. If you tried a different German beer every day, you wouldn't have to start from the beginning again for 13 and a half years," he says with relish. "Germans love their German beer. They'll enjoy another beer occasionally, but the emphasis always stays on German beer."

But as patriotic as German beer-drinkers are, they are also fiercely provincial. The DBB spokesman underlines the power of local loyalty. "There is an expression here – ‘beer needs a home.’ Germans like to drink their own beer, and if it is a local beer, and they can associate something with it, they enjoy it all the more."

An East German success story

Story continues below…

Indeed, the key to Hasseröder's success – it is the sixth most popular beer in Germany and the undisputed leader in the eastern part of the country – is possibly its regional origin.

In communist East Germany, beers often could only be sold in their immediate area, and none was allowed to dominate. Good ones were often exported to the West for hard currency. But Hasseröder – brewed in the small town of Wernigerode – was the main beer in the mountainous Harz region of eastern Germany, a favourite holiday resort.

"Because of the many holidaymakers that came to the Harz, a lot of outsiders found out about the beer,” Klehr explains. “Hasseröder became a favourite present to bring back."

Like many East German brands, Hasseröder struggled for a few years following the reunification, as people flocked towards West German products. But old East German favourites soon regained their hold, and an apocryphal story tells how football and Hasseröder came together in serendipitous union for the UEFA Cup Final in Turin, Italy in 1993.

"The actual sponsor pulled out at short notice, and a truck with Hasseröder placards on its way to another event happened to be nearby," says Klehr. "An East German beer at the UEFA cup final was a real bombshell, and a source of great pride for East German consumers."

And now AB InBev is hoping Hasseröder’s exposure at this year’s World Cup will help make it a nationwide favourite.

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Ben Knight (ben.knight@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

03:36 June 24, 2010 by wetdawg~
What AB inBev need to do is change the Budweiser formula. Before prohibition, USA bier was brewed by German imigrants, Pols, Czecs, etc. There were thousands of local breweries as in Germany now. After prohibition ended 13 years later, regional breweries did not reimerge. Only a half a dozen brewerers who made similar "light" pils & lagers. American bier does suck! I remember my first Hefe Weizen in Germany in 1980. It was like going to heaven. I never went back to Bud, Miller, whatever. And today, I could buy a bottle of Bud for one dollar, or, a bottle of fresh German bier for $1.25 delivered from the Fatherland! Which do you suppose I am going to choose? I will say that I think Samuel Adams is the best American bier there is. Too bad FIFA didn't serve that too. But SA doen't have 40 million to pay FIFA to do so.
08:31 June 24, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
Today, Budweiser is about as representative of American beer as Hasserröder is of German beer. It's too bad that wetdawg and others are unaware of the rebirth of beer brewing in the US and are still basing their judgements on old stereotypes. Since 1980, hundreds of small brewers have opened in the US, all over the country, and offer thousands of different brews. I'm a committed German beer drinker (mostly Franken biers, and won't touch that

Hasseröder stuff), but not so small-minded to slander the great variety of American brews -- lots and lots of ales -- as nothing but Bud clones. If wetdawg considers Sam Adams the best American beer there is, then either he doesn't know beer, or he hasn't tried even a small fraction of American beers.
09:35 June 24, 2010 by So36
There are indeed lots of great US beers out there, but Fat Tire or Abita is never going to sponsor World Cup matches. However, you're wrong not to try Hasseröder. It's a nice clean pils and isn't known as as das Becks des Ostens for nothing.
11:40 June 24, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
OK, in the name of East-West beer harmony, I'll try another Hasseröder, but I'm not sure that calling it das Becks des Ostens is such a compliment. I stand by my earlier suggestion that the Frankenland biers are generally Germany's best -- too bad they are relatively hard to find outside the region.
11:56 June 24, 2010 by So36
If you're in Berlin have you been to Henne in Kreuzberg? They have Frankish Landbier on tap there and damn fine roast chicken. Don't forget a Alt-Berliner schnapps to top it off.

16:26 June 24, 2010 by proclusian
Becks = Krabbenpiss
23:04 June 24, 2010 by stuarhy
i'm sure i saw an ad for Bitburger behind Hansi Flick this afternoon!

I live in the UK but my garage has a fridge full of Bitburger & Berliner Kindl
14:17 June 25, 2010 by frankiep
To all those who think that American beer sucks: Bud, Miller, and Coors are not the only American beers out there. Yes, those beer are flat out awful. But there are some very good American beers out there such as Sam Adams, Yuengling, Sierra Nevada, to name a few. Plus there are plenty of excellent regional beers as well.
17:07 June 25, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
I don't think the issue is one of there being good American beers. I think the issue one of good American beers being universally available. The big 3 are still most predominant at most places which are not beer-oriented, with maybe the addition of Sam Adams or Heineken on the menu. That is the problem.

Bud, Miller, and Coors, along with their regional sister brands, are complete and utter garbage. Sam Adams being universally available would already be a good step in the right direction, but the US still doesn't have a palatable mainstream summer pilsner for everyday drinking.
00:45 June 26, 2010 by Joshontour
Der Grenadier... if you ever make it to the midwest, Schell's Pilsner is universally available and comparable to any beer I have ever tasted.
10:59 June 27, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
I remember when Coors was unavailable east of the Mississippi. Talk about a watered down beer!

But as I read in his story, it's about being forced to consume the Sponsorship beer. If this tournament is truly an international one, why not make various beers available? I hear that Japan makes a good beer. Could be. If it were available to me while in SA, I might try one.

My opinion is that Bayern has the best bier! Paulaner followed by Erdinger. I had an Erdinger in Texas and it was not the same. I think most will agree, Bier ist Deutsch!!!
00:37 June 28, 2010 by wenddiver
US Beer, go Abita or Shiner. For an evening of rough housing it's hard to beat an ABITA Beer Turbo Dog! Drink one and Pop a Cap in your anoying neighbor's *ss.
13:30 June 28, 2010 by brnskin2010
In my opinon German bier is the best hands down. American brewers use artifical ingredients, germans do not they have laws that say they can't use perservatives, which is great. No offense to USA because I'm American...right now I'm living in Bavaria, Bayern, Bamberg where there are lots of breweries. I've was never a beer drinker in the US because it always make me urinate every 15 mins and gave me hangovers. After coming here to Germany and trying various types of biers ( hefe wessien, black bier, pils,) with no hangovers or excessive bladder problems. The USA is not # 1 in everything certainly not in beer making. As JohnnesKonig says BIER IST DEUTSCH!!!!!
22:06 June 29, 2010 by ReaderX
I am also of the opinion that the Germans have some of the best beer in the world even after visiting many many countries. The Bavarians makes some good drink.

Also for those that do believe American beer is the big 3 as mentioned above certainly haven't tasted anything outside of those. The micro breweries have been expanding and producing quality beer in the last few decades.

As JohnnesKonig says BIER IST DEUTSCH!!!!! oder besser gesagt Bier ist Bairisch!!
08:25 June 30, 2010 by JAMessersmith
Bud, Coors and Miller may be popular in the rest of America, but most beer drinkers I know here in Kalifornia have a much more refined taste for brew (and as far as I'm concerned, Sam Adams is terrible, though better than the aforementioned abominations).

There are several bars here in Redondo Beach that have beers like Paulaner, Warsteiner, Spaten, Franziskaner, etc.. on tap, and there's a bar down on the pier with close to 100 beers on tap from all over the world. Becks and St. Pauli Girl are everywhere, but I'm not a big fan; they taste similar to Heineken to me (which isn't a good thing, although I'd obviously take them over a Bud/Coors any day). Grolsch and Stella are also fairly popular (which I know are Dutch and Belgian respectively, but still good), and so are English/Irish beers like Newcastle and Guinness. Can't say I've ever had Hasseröder, but would love to try it sometime.

Other than Pilsner, Hefeweizen is by far the most popular style of beer around (it's everywhere... and the American brands Widmer and Pyramid are actually fairly decent... but it's even popular in the case of local microbreweries, which are prevalent in the area), but Märzen, and Bock can be found as well (on tap, of course).

Sierra Nevada is a local brewer to the north of here (in Chico), and they make a somewhat decent product, though most of my friends are much more enthusiastic about it than I am (it's decent, but not on par with your stuff, in my opinion... as far as US goes, I'd take a Widmer Hef over it any day). Mexican beers (i.e. Sol, Bohemia, Tecate, XX, etc..) are also somewhat popular, given the local demographics, but they are just as bad as the corporate American beers. However, you shouldn't judge American beer by our crap corporate water brands. Microbrew has exploded in recent years, and there ARE Americans out there who care about taste and quality (at least in Kalifornia and the West Coast... can't speak for the rest of the country, which is not to say they don't have good microbrews as well, I just can't say one way or the other). A friend of mine actually brews at home, and he's obsessed with Central European beers, and holds himself up to your brewing standards (he does a pretty good job of it too). All I can say is, Americans who actually care about good beer really DO exist. We're out there, and are thoroughly ashamed of the watered-down reputation American beer has earned throughout the world... trust me. I haven't had a Bud or Coors since I was in high school...
21:55 June 30, 2010 by wxman
In addition to his lack of knowledge regarding the microbeer surge over the last 30 years, wetdawg doen't know his post-prohibition history very well. At the close of priohibition there were 2,500 breweries in the US, not six. It was only recently (in the last 15 years) that we ended up with that many NATIONAL breweries. There are still at least 50 of the old regional breweries out there, and I'm not counting the micros.
19:38 July 3, 2010 by CPT/USA
The reason American's drink Bud, Miller, and Coor's so cold is that it deadens the flavor of these drab beverages.
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