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Bud targets Ukraine next in the march to the whole-world beer


By Noel Young | Correspondent

April 13, 2012 | 4 min read

It seems a bold ambition for Bud, the all-American beer. But now it is well on its way to becoming the first world beer in the same way as Coke is an all-the-world brand. The beer is now sold in 86 countries - and next week it debuts in Ukraine.

Bud - the upmarket Chinese version

The aim is to turn the classic American brew "into a global powerhouse on the scale of Coca-Cola, " says AdAge in a salute thus week .

In China, one version of Bud is sold in special cans topped with gold-coloured aluminum foil, giving it a premium appeal.

The Ukraine debut follows other big Bud launches in major markets, including Brazil late last year and Russia in 2010.

Bud's march across the globe, says AdAge, is noteworthy because beer is one of the few categories where big international brands have struggled to take hold.

The largest beer brand by market share is Snow, at 5%, and it is sold only in China. The top soft drink is Coca-Cola, which has a 25% share and is sold in 206 countries.

"History suggests it's pretty tough to create a truly global beer brand," says analyst Mark Swartzberg . But Bud is in the business of bucking history.

Bud's owner AB InBev was formed in 2008 when Belgium-based InBev bought U.S.-based Anheuser Busch. Now it is pouring its money into selling Bud in every corner of the world.

It is essentially the same marketing message everywhere - under the "Grab Some Buds" slogan from lead agency Anomaly in New York.

Competitor SABMiller has in the past gone for regional brands with advertising playing on local cultures.

But Bud seems to be getting it right. Global volume grew 3.1% last year after a 1.7% jump in 2010 - the first positive international growth for the brand in many years.

In the US things have been not so hot. Bud was passed by Coors Light as the nation's No. 2 beer, "an embarrassing hit for the so-called King of Beers," said AdAge.

AB InBev says the rate of decline in this US has been cut in half, partly down to a new focus on younger drinkers. Bud's big plus, believes AB InBev, is that it is well known, even in countries where it is not yet sold, like Ukraine.

Jason Warner, global VP-Budweiser, talked of the visibility of a brand like Budweiser."It's seen in Hollywood films, it's seen in popular culture and it travels."

In short, says AdAge, Bud is selling the American dream, or at least one version of it: celebration and optimism. Thus the tagline, "Great Times Are Waiting. Grab Some Buds."

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