Anheuser-Busch’s Approach to Soccer World Cup Marketing

The 2022 Soccer World Cup, which starts in less than four weeks, plays a very important role in Anheuser-Busch Marketing. “We are a big sponsor of the World Cup globally and in the U.S. We sponsor both the U.S. and the Mexican national team. We have supported the Mexican National team for at least 20 years,” Mariana Lever, Sr. Director Commercial Strategy & Planning, Anheuser-Busch, said during a recent Portada Live knowledge-sharing event for brand marketers.

The 2022 Soccer World Cup is unlike any other before due to the season in the year it is played  (winter in the Northern Hemisphere), the timing (just before Thanksgiving and the year-end holiday season), and because of the time, the matches take place in the U.S. (early morning to midday). Anheuser-Busch’s Mariana Lever notes that “this time the circumstances are a bit different due to the fact that the tournament is taking place in Qatar and around Thanksgiving. It is going to be a more regional approach for us. There are markets where we will talk more about the Mexican National Team and other markets where we will talk more about the U.S. Team. Then there is Miami, where we won’t talk about any of these teams and just about the World Cup.”

It is going to be a more regional approach for us. There are markets where we will talk more about the Mexican National Team and other markets where we will talk more about the U.S. Team.

Anheuser-Busch Marketing Strategy: First-Party Data

As for most CPG companies, the acquisition of first-party data is crucial for Anheuser-Busch. The world’s largest brewing company’s marketing strategy also uses the World Cup, with a forecasted engagement of 5 billion people, to gain direct consumer data. Its Budweiser brand, America’s top-selling beer, partnered with football superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr., and Raheem Sterling in an ad showing hundreds of red prize boxes “dropped” worldwide. Starting last August 13, fans scanned special Budweiser QR codes to find the coordinates to these boxes. Fans can find these special codes on social media, in specific locations such as stadiums, and on selected Budweiser products. Budweiser’s objective with its World Cup campaign is to sell one billion bottles and cans with limited-edition branding and QR code activations, and simultaneously fill its purchase funnel with first-party data.

David Sanchez,  Senior Marketing Manager at Dish Latino, asked Anheuser-Busch executives at a recent Portada Live event whether the 2022 Soccer World Cup is an important event in their strategies and what happens after this all-important tournament.  “There is a lift in consumption after the World Cup. Qatar games are early so that may impact this time.  Every year in Super Bowl you see a lift for Bud Light and certain other brands three or four weeks afterward. It carries a lot of equity and a lot of association. It is really about which brand is talking to the right audience in those specific moments,” said Alex Monroy, Sr. Brand Director, Estrella Jalisco & Challenger Brands, Anheuser-Busch.

Absolutely, there is a lift in consumption after the World Cup. We see that every year in Super Bowl there is a lift in consumption for Bud Light and certain other brands three or four weeks afterward.

Anheuser-Busch Marketing Strategy: The Hispanic Consumer

Anheuser-Busch Marketing Strategy
Mariana Lever, Sr. Director Commercial Strategy & Planning, Anheuser-Busch and Alex Monroy, Alex Monroy, Sr. Brand Director, Estrella Jalisco & Challenger Brands, Anheuser-Busch, at a recent Portada Live event.

The Hispanic consumer plays a very important role in Anheuser-Busch Marketing around the World Cup, because of the very high affinity of Hispanic audiences for soccer-related content, Ramiro Crespo, Digital Marketing and Channel Strategy Lead for Multicultural, T-Mobile asked what percentage of a brand’s Spanish-language media spend should be carved out for digital tactics. According to Lever, “the answer from the strategy side is that depending on the segmentation the answer is very different depending on the brand.”  “There should not be a distinction between general market media and a Hispanic media plan anymore. There is too much spill from general market audiences. Hispanics are watching the Superbowl as much as they watch the Mexican Natioinal Team”, Alex Monroy answered. He added that  “everything in streaming is exploding. Anything you should be doing in streaming and CTV must be way over-indexing your linear TV buy.”

There should not be a distinction between general market media and a Hispanic media plan anymore. There is too much spill from general market audiences. Hispanics are watching the Superbowl as much as they watch the Mexican National Team.

The Role of Experiential

Sammy Bliss, Client Accounts, Director ASV,  a participant at our recent Portada Live event, asked the  Anheuser-Busch’s executives about the role of experiential in Anheuser Busch’s marketing. Mariana Lever noted that earlier this year, for the first time they had a massive concert called “Rumbazo” with very different Hispanic music genres. “Bringing all genres together into an experience we can curate is something we wanted to do. So we went ahead and created it for ourselves,” Lever said.
Lever added that other events they do are smaller as they are more related to the activities of more than 600 wholesalers who very frequently visit stores and bodegas.”