Qatar’s last-minute decision to ban alcohol at World Cup stadiums has left Budweiser with loads of beer left on its hands. The company has an innovative solution to offload it.
Budweiser will ship the unsold Buds to the country that wins the tournament, the company said in a tweet. The company confirmed the plans in a statement to CNN Business, writing that it “wants to bring this celebration from the FIFA World Cup stadiums to the winning country’s fans.”
“We will host the ultimate championship celebration for the winning country. Because, for the winning fans, they’ve taken the world. More details will be shared when we get closer to the finals,” an Anheuser-Busch InBev spokesperson said in a statement.
Last week — just a few days before the World Cup was set to begin — Qatar announced that the eight stadiums couldn’t sell alcoholic Budweiser, leaving fans with only one option for beer: non-alcoholic Bud Zero.
Qatar is a Muslim country that is considered to be very conservative, and it tightly regulates alcohol sales and usage. In September, officials said ticketed fans would be able to buy alcoholic beer three hours before kickoff and for one hour after the final whistle, but not during the match.
“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeter,” said FIFA, soccer’s governing body, last week.
Budweiser tweeted, “Well, this is awkward,” though the social media post was quickly deleted.
“As partners of FIFA for over three decades, we look forward to our activations of FIFA World Cup campaigns around the world to celebrate football with our consumers,” an AB-InBev spokesperson said in a previous statement. “Some of the planned stadium activations cannot move forward due to circumstances beyond our control.”
AB InBev paid $75 million for the FIFA sponsorship, according to multiple reports. So, the decision threw a wrench into the company’s World Cup marketing plans, as the decision dramatically reduces its presence for thousands of fans at the World Cup. However, arguably the bigger part — its TV advertisements with football royalty Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. — aren’t affected.
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will take place through December 18.