WORLD CUP 2002: Global marketing - Bud the Wiser. With Anheuser-Busch set to re-use its One World, One Game, One Beer theme, Adam Leyland looks at the global marketing strategy that underpins it

As an official FIFA sponsor since 1986, you might expect Anheuser-Busch to be a well-oiled machine with its World Cup marketing. And this is not a company to mess up.

But it's not all plain sailing for the world's biggest brewer. "Manic" is how one marketing executive described the build-up to the World Cup.

The man responsible for all this is Ed Farley, US-based director of international marketing at Anheuser-Busch. While other World Cups have been a useful learning experience, he says: "We are constantly reviewing promotional opportunities."

As an all-American brand, placing great emphasis on its American roots, the link between Budweiser and football has never been entirely logical.

And like all brewers, it also faces a further challenge from the early-morning scheduling of many games. Perhaps that's why it didn't take up an option to sponsor the bumper breaks on ITV, as rumoured.

Nevertheless, Anheuser-Busch is serious about its commitment to football: the deal to sponsor the 2002 and 2006 World Cups is the largest in Budweiser's long history of sports marketing.

The programme is organised and directed from corporate HQ in St Louis, but as a global operation - the beer is sold in more than 80 countries - there is a lot of local input, and Farley claims that "virtually all our employees outside the US

are involved in World Cup-based initiatives.

Using a theme that was first wheeled out at Le Mondial in 1998, the World Cup programme revolves around the "One World, One Game, One Beer" tagline, with one integrated global marketing programme supporting it. "The World Cup enables us to use one property to promote Budweiser at the local level.

Our ultimate goal has always been to communicate a unique and consistent marketing theme across all regions, while customising our programmes to ensure local relevancy,

says Farley.

Communications is at the heart of such a global challenge, he continues.

As well as e-mail, conference calls and regular meetings, the company uses its sales and marketing intranet to post information on marketing plans, approved logos and artwork for merchandising, and best-practice.

A lot of the promotional work is conceived and created in St Louis, and while it is often translated and produced at a regional level in one of the company's international offices, everything is signed off centrally.

Some agency insiders describe the culture as "dictatorial

and "dogmatic to the bone", because of its "rigid adherence to rules". Chief executive Pat Stokes is even said to personally sign off on the advertising creative for local markets.

However, Budweiser likes to encourage regional programmes. One of the most innovative initiatives is in the UK, with a sales promotion campaign which uses GPS satellite technology in Bud bottle caps to track down the 25 winners. A European-first, this initiative, conceived and executed by Marketing Drive, has been widely acclaimed. For a company that normally relies on brawn rather than brains in the sales channel, it is particularly impressive.

No one could ever accuse Budweiser of lacking in class when it comes to above-the-line, however. Details of the World Cup creative were not available as this supplement went to press, but it's understood that a handful of global ads (humorous, product-based and the One stuff) will be selected from among the roster of global agencies, as well as local ads in some markets.

Ads from London-based agency BMP DDB Needham are being reviewed, but it is not yet known whether its creative ideas will even meet approval for use in the UK.

Another innovative programme is the Budweiser Virtual Shootout, a virtual reality game which is touring Britain's bars, in which Budweiser drinkers "experience the thrilling sensation of taking a penalty kick in a World Cup stadium".

Some of the campaigns initiated by Budweiser won't be winning any awards.

The Budweiser Cup, for example, is a global six-a-side football tournament which will culminate in a final played in a World Cup stadium in Korea.

While this is a triumph of organisation, involving global promotions agency RPMC together with local PR agencies and local Budweiser marketing teams, it's not too original.

Still, Randall Blackford, UK marketing director at Anheuser-Busch, estimates that 700 pub teams will enter in the UK alone.

Online activity, too, is functional. On the Budweiser web site, there's the Bud Clock, which "pipes the latest news and trivia to your desktop, and tells you the time in Korea so you can get your body clock ready for next May

(sic).

Budweiser has also sponsored the FIFA web site, with the official 2002 FIFA World Cup Pick and Win Game.

There's also the FIFA package, which not only gives Budweiser the use of logos, but thousands of tickets for consumer and on-pack giveaways, perimeter ads, access to hospitality, and exclusive malt beer pouring rights in FIFA World Cup stadiums.

And let's not discount the importance of Japan and Korea as a market.

Of course, the timing of the World Cup games isn't ideal for the major markets, but one of the commercial appeals of this year's tournament is that it's an excellent marketing opportunity for Budweiser to promote itself in the Far East. Japan and Korea are already important markets for the brand and it has licences with local brewing firms - Oriental Breweries in South Korea and Kirin in Japan.

By using the techniques that work to such good effect in the Western World, with a little local flavouring, it is hoping to improve its standing in these markets with an American dream of football, humour and cool.