Monday, July 14, 2008

Bud Girls in ICU?

With Anheuser-Busch today passing into the dreaded Belgian hands of InBev, the same folks that own Labatts, you can bet that there will be a lot of talk about how the sale will affect sports.

As SportsBiz - The Business of Sports Illuminated detailed last month when rumours of the deal began to surface the results probably won’t be good. Of course we in Canada have already had a sneak peak at what the company’s thoughts are on using sports as a marketing tool. History tells us that InBev will start to divest itself from Anheuser-Busch’s sports holdings and sponsorship deals as soon as it’s feasible to do so.

And, why shouldn’t they? When they dropped the Blue Jays many here suggested that they were making a mistake and the move showed that they didn’t understand the North American mindset. Since then, all they have done is get bigger. They have a business model that works for them. That model doesn’t include sports. It’s illogical to think that they will change now, although you will likely hear much of the same “don’t-understand-how-things-work-here” talk down in the Great Republic for the next bit.

When you factor in the horrible shape that the North American auto industry is in, you have to wonder where the sponsorship money is going to come from moving forward. It seems that there has always been a feeling that the business of sports is ceiling-less—that there was no cap on how much money that could be made. Although it would be a bit much to get all Chicken Little now, it would also be foolhardy to ignore the possible impact of these changing economic times.

No, sports won’t suddenly disappear. But, the Bud Girls probably will and that’s bad news for more than just the frat boys.

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