Blog: Andy MortonIt's the World Cup and drinks are having a ball

Andy Morton | 12 June 2014

The FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil today (12 June), and to honour the occasion just-drinks is digging out its non-specific national team scarf and giving a big Mexican wave to the grand-daddy of the sporting calender.

And as well we might, because every four years the FIFA cavalcade does some wonderful favours for the beverage industry - and not just the event's two beverage sponsors, The Coca-Cola Co and Anheuser-Busch InBev.

If you don't believe us, here's some highlights (and a couple of lows):

  • Brazil's wine world is currently enjoying the joga bonito - today it was revealed that export sales of bottled Brazilian wine have rocketed in the first four months of 2014 because of the World Cup. 
  • Coca-Cola's World Cup marketing campaigns are often epic undertakings. This year has been no different and the soft drink makers push has included adverts, themed packaging and jaunty little tunes designed to make the world a happier place.
  • Of course, if you don't have Coca-Cola's marketing budget, there are other ways to capture the World Cup magic without giving FIFA a penny, as I outlined here.
  • On-trade also gets a lift from the football. In England and Wales this year, Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a rethink of a ban on late pub openings, directly contradicting his own Home Office. Suggestions that the later hours need only apply for a week because England are doomed to crash out at the group stage have been put down to Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish jealously.
  • If you want to know what the Brazil World Cup will do for the country's alcohol industry, then look no further than South Africa 2010. The tournament was deemed a sporting squib, but it managed to turn US and Japanese consumers on to South African wines, according to its national trade body.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, beer was “the major beneficiary” when the World Cup was hosted by Germany in 2006. According to the German Brewers Association, 2006 was the first time in six years that beer consumption did not fall.
  • On the negative side, however, wherever there is money to be made, there is a government official waiting with a tax form. In Brazil in April, the government surprised the beer and soda industry by bringing forward an expected tax rise to before the World Cup. It wasn't entirely clear if this was meant to take advantage of the tournament, but in any case, after an outcry from producers, the government reversed its decision.
  • Perhaps the most bizarre incident combining drinks and the World Cup came in South Africa, when Dutch brewer Bavaria was deemed by FIFA to contravene its stringent exclusivity rules. How exactly? Bavaria had organised a group of women in orange mini-dresses to attend the Netherlands v Denmark game, infuriating the global footballing body so much that it pressed charges, and even triggered a dawn raid from South African police.

Enjoy the tournament!  

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