May 30, 2006

Du, Du Machst Mir Viel Schmertzen ...

TRULY IT IS AN IRONY OF IRONIES. In just nine days or so, the 2006 World Cup will get underway in Germany, and those fortunate few who shall watch the matches live will be forced to drink beer from the one nation on Earth where soccer is an afterthought. Furthermore, the beer in question is not even a decent American beer (such as Samuel Adams) but Budweiser -- that fizzy, lighter-than-light, cheap imitation of beer.

You see, Bud is the Official Beer Sponsor of the 2006 FIFA World Cup -- as it is for the 2010 and 2014 contests -- and as such it will pretty much be the ONLY beer on tap. (Under a cooperation agreement, Bitburger will also be available, but you'll probably have to ask).

I have to admit I find this state of affairs downright horrifying, yet at the same time, I find it extremely funny. I mean, not even the Germans deserve to have Bud forced upon them, especially during an event which for many is practically of religious significance. On the other hand, every time I think about this, it makes me want to go into hysterics ("THAT'LL teach 'em to side with the French!").

Perhaps this is my part-German sense of humor at work.

What an indignity it must be for them, though! God! There perhaps aren't many good comparisons for us here, but imagine if your favorite pizza restaurant had its entire stock replaced with those cheese-laden monstrosities from Pizza Hut. Or if all the Mexican restaurants in California were replaced with Taco Bells. Furthermore, imagine that you were looking forward to having those things at the Super Bowl, but then learned you couldn't. You, being rational, would be really angry.

The Germans are really angry too -- well, at the very least, they're rather upset, as you can see on certain Web sites (klicken on the "Gallery" link to see what I mean). Even politicians are getting into the act. Franz Maget, head of the Bavarian Social Democratic Party, in condemning Bud's being on tap, has even gone so far as to say, "We have a duty to public welfare and must not poison visitors to World Cup venues."
Chairman Maget also called Bud "the worst beer in the world."

I do not wish to quibble much with Chairman Maget's characterization, but I don't think calling Bud the worst beer in the world is entirely accurate. After all, the Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. makes roughly thirty beers, beer-related drinks and beverages that kinda-sorta relate to beer.

These include something called "B^E", which the firm describes as a "great mixture of beer and unique flavors" which one drinks "straight up, on the rocks or mixed; and "TILT," a "berry-flavored malt beverage with caffeine, guarana, ginseng and a bright-orange color." Last but not least, though, one must mention that Anheuser-Busch is the company behind "Natty UP," a product described as "caffeinated beer with real beer taste ... not sweet."

"Natty UP. party down," Anheuser-Busch advises.

Clearly, among this stellar line of beers and beer products, Bud is like a bottle of Dom Perignon placed carelessly next to the Franzia display. (Dear Moet et Chandon: please forgive this analogy). But then, comparing Bud itself to Dom Perignon would be like comparing a newt to Erasmus. Now, the gulf might not be as wide in that equation if one replaced Dom Perignon with a quality German beer. But it would still be so wide that any attempt to cross it would remain ludicrous.

In such a situation, one almost pities Anheuser-Busch. Why, no less than The Nation magazine has written sympathetically about the treacherous spot in which the brewer finds itself. (Strangely, the magazine's writer argues the brewery's steps to create heavier beers are a mistake). However, the key word there is "almost." It's hard to pity folks so far behind the curve -- even if one would take no joy should they, in nine days, commit the marketing world's equivalent of an own goal.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at May 30, 2006 11:57 PM | TrackBack
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