SBD/February 13, 2014/Olympics

Labatt Says Its Hockey-Themed Budweiser Campaign Is Not Ambush Marketing

The COC this week reportedly "raised concerns that the Budweiser Red Light campaign suggests an association between the Olympic movement and the beer made by Labatt Brewing Co. Ltd., which is not an Olympic sponsor," according to Ashante Infantry of the TORONTO STAR. The Red Light promotion debuted on Super Bowl Sunday with "an ad depicting hockey fans at a Moscow bar watching a game in which Team Canada triumphs over Russia." Featuring a "roving blimp", which arrives in Toronto today, the commercial’s tag line "'Let the goals begin' could be read as a play on 'Let the Games begin.'" Labatt Marketing Dir Kyle Norrington in an e-mail wrote, "We have gone out of our way to make it clear that Budweiser Red Lights are not related to any one league or event." Infantry notes the COC’s official beer sponsor is Molson Coors Brewing Co., which is "getting Olympic traction with its beer fridge campaign." Molson Coors Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs Forest Kenney said that the brewer "isn’t going to be ruffled by a competitor’s 'noise,'" but added that some Canadians “might be surprised to learn that Labatt’s parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev sponsors American Olympians." Kenney said, "If you were to interview people on the street and ask them if they were going to support the brand that’s actually giving money back to the COC or the one that’s giving money to the U.S. Olympic Committee, it’s going to make a really easy choice for them." He added, "We don’t try and build our brands on the back of someone else" (TORONTO STAR, 2/13).
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