The United States may be one of the few countries that does not get overly excited about the 64 matches the 2010 FIFA World Cup will host beginning this month in South Africa. Nevertheless, beverage companies with an international appeal do recognize how enthralled the rest of the world is in these matches.

This month, Starbucks Corp., Seattle, began distributing its coffee and tea products in select locations in South Africa in time for the World Cup festivities. The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, has had promotions for the World Cup running for months, including a competition for fans to win tickets to the World Cup, sponsoring a World Cup Trophy tour and releasing a song. “Wavin’ Flag – Coca-Cola Celebration Mix,” recorded by Somali hip-hop artist K’NAAN for Coca-Cola and its sponsorship of the World Cup, has broken into the top ten on music charts in eleven countries, including peaking at No. 1 in China, Mexico, Germany, Canada, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The single has been released in more than 150 markets around the world and is used as the anthem for all elements of the global Coca-Cola marketing campaign in support of its World Cup sponsorship.

Brewers also have gotten into the soccer spirit. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Budweiser is the official beer of the World Cup. A-B InBev will leverage its portfolio of beers by extending local sponsorship rights to its leading brands in select markets, including Brahma in Brazil, Hasseröder in Germany, Jupiler in Belgium and The Netherlands, and Harbin in China. Global marketing efforts are represented with a “Budweiser United” sponsorship logo, while leading local brands will use a customized version of these marks for local activities.

SABMiller’s South African subsidiary, South African Breweries Limited (SAB), has invested about $22.5 million in the World Cup, the company says. The funds have been invested in infrastructure in South African townships, Castle Lager campaigns and marketing in support of the World Cup and a number of packaging innovations. SAB will be introducing a new easy opening can with a lid that’s completely removable, allowing the can to serve as a cup, the company says. The company also will produce a limited run of 1 million aluminum bottles, which will be the first time aluminum bottles are introduced in the South African beer market, it says. SAB estimates it will sell an additional 100,000 hectaliters of beer during the five-week World Cup period.

Back in the United States, Americans might be more interested in the matches this year because of the American team’s good record. The U.S. team surprised soccer fans at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, when they finished runners-up to Brazil. Hopefully, the World Cup spirit overflows to spark U.S. beverage sales.BI

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