AB InBev to cut Olympic ad spending in half

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AB InBev is drastically cutting its spending on NBC’s Olympic coverage. Is this a sign of weaker macro beer sales, a more frugal InBev, or a shift away from the US markets?

Anheuser-Busch InBev is not likely to remain the exclusive beer advertiser during NBC’s broadcasts of the next two Olympic Games, cutting ad spending and opening the door for rivals to get air time, a source familiar with talks between the companies said on Wednesday.

Anheuser-Busch has told General Electric Co’s NBC that unlike in past years, the brewer will spend only about half as much on advertising packages during the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and 2012 Summer Games in London, said the source, who asked not to be identified.

They are not cutting spending on the World Cup. Given that soccer football is much more popular in the rest of the world, I’m thinking the “Great American Lager” is being shifted away from the US market by the new French Belgium owners.

Anheuser-Busch emphasized its World Cup sponsorship again when discussing its plans on Wednesday. Last week, company executives told Reuters that the World Cup would play a critical role in the brewer’s marketing next year.

Regardless of any subtext that may or may not be there, it’s obvious that AB InBev is a different company than Anheuser-Busch was.

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