. The Transom .

Thursday, May 29, 2008

InBev puts Anheuser-Busch reputation to task

Being located in St. Louis, I hear more than the normal amount of chatter regarding the InBev merger with Anheuser-Busch. Some would call it a takeover, but that's just semantics. In my opinion, this deal puts AB's marketing reputation to the test. Should it go through, will Budweiser still be the great American beer? Or will it be the once great American beer that now takes orders from Europe? This also brings up a few questions, most noticeably, does the average beer drinker really care? In the short term my vote is no. The taste of the beer will remain unchanged. The additional distribution channels will make it more available. That's all good. Where AB beer drinkers will start to see change is in the price, and the marketing. Remember how much flak Miller got when it was bought by SAB? AB can no longer play the American marketing game. It won't be credible, and it might even turn some people off.

August Busch IV has openly said he isn't real keen on the idea of a deal with InBev. But the financials make a lot of sense so far and AB shareholders would make a good lump of cash. But the brand would be forever changed. Thus the balancing act that AB must perform: maintain the heritage of the brand, or live by the numbers. As a Cardinals fan, I don't think I could get used to the team playing in InBev Stadium...

(note to all in the know... I'm aware AB no longer owns Busch Stadium. Cut me some creative license slack)

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