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Oct 01, 2014

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A-B waves the flag

Materials criticize breweries 'owned by foreigners'

July 11, 2005 - The New York Times reports American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch has grown bolder in portraying its beers as the choice for patriots.

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The company reportedly is circulating two informational sheets. One criticizes the company's major competitors, SABMiller and Molson Coors, for being "owned by foreigners." The other states that Anheuser-Busch is expanding internationally to bring profits "back to the United States."

Anheuser-Busch refuses to comment on the reports. Executives in the beer industry said the information sheets have been given to Anheuser-Busch distributors, posted at the company's Busch Gardens theme parks and inserted in cases of beer. In the past, Anheuser-Busch has mentioned Miller's purchase by South African breweries in television commercials.

Both SABMiller and Molson Coors offered evidence refuting the A-B claims.

The Times story noted analysts outside of the United States found the materials puzzling. "I'm surprised they get away with that," said James Dawson, an analyst with Charles Stanley in London. "I don't think it's going to do Anheuser-Busch any favors."

International growth is increasingly important to Anheuser-Busch. The company has been expanding steadily abroad: in part because of its purchase of Harbin Brewery in China, it sold 13.8 million barrels of beer overseas in 2004, up 64% from the year before and about one-sixth of its total volume.

The campaign in America is in stark contrast to Anheuser-Busch's approach in Britain. A series of recent Budweiser ads play to the stereotype that Americans are simple, loud and aggressive, imagining what would happen if the United States tried to remake one of Britain's favorite sports, soccer, known here as football.

In the commercials, Americans find several ways to ruin the game, including adding extra balls to it and introducing monster trucks. The ads close with the self-deprecating tagline: "You do the football. We'll do the beer."


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