Germany: AB InBev cancels launch of Budweiser

AB InBev has unexpectedly canceled the launch of its flagship brand Budweiser in Germany. The world’s leading brewer reportedly planned to spend EUR 10 million on a marketing campaign and had already agreed on listings and promotions with national retailers according to informations gathered by our German news service inside getraenke.

However, after frequent changes at the top of the company –  30-year old Michel Pepa, who joined the company in November as the 12th country director for Germany in 18 years, after his predecessor Florian Weins (35) handed in his resignation for personal reasons after being in office for only 8 month (, 24.10.2019) – people could not remember a deal in regards to the brand name Budweiser.

Due to an ongoing dispute with Budějovický Budvar, which dates back to 1907 and has involved more than 100 court cases around the world, the Czech company has the rights to the name Budweiser in most of Europe and AB InBev has this right in North America. Consequently, AB InBev uses the name Bud in most of Europe and Budvar sells its beer in North America under the name Czechvar.

While Budweiser is sold in many European countries under the Bud label, this is not possible in Germany due to a well-known national beer brand called Bitburger or Bit for short. Since the brand names Bit and Bud are quite close together, AB InBev concluded a special deal for the 2006 Football World Cup in Germany where AB InBev was one of the main sponsors with the Budweiser beer brand. According to the agreement with Bitburger, AB InBev named its brand Anheuser Busch Bud.

For this year’s launch, however, AB InBev forgot in the first instance to conclude a new deal with Bitburger, which was done at a later stage, after some people reminded the company to do so. As it seems, this deal did not please the head office in Leuven since the date for the launch just in time for the Super Bowl on 3.2.2020 was canceled and delayed to April.

In the meantime, people at AB InBev tried to push an earlier start by using the name Anheuser Busch Budweiser, which of course failed due to objections from Budějovický Budvar.

Finally, the new Germany boss Michael Pepa had to cancel the market launch. However, this did not go ahead without major problems in communication. Top customers were informed about the withdrawal even before AB InBev's second management level found out.

Germany is said to be one of the hardest markets for beer in the world. Many international breweries have come and failed and those who stay, wish they never came. AB InBev is the best example. The company has tried many times to conquer the German beer market but so far only with lackluster results.

In the last years, the company has been in Germany on the retreat. In February, AB InBev canceled the planned sale of its two German breweries Hasseröder and Diebels which together stand for a production of more than 2 million hectoliters because they could not find a buyer (, 20.3.2019).

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